Relay!

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The 2016 PIHRA races are off to an exciting start, and even more exciting, the finals will be taking place in Billings, Montana, which is close enough for us to go, so it looks like we’ll be taking a week in September. Maybe two, if we make wacipi earlier in September. From Lakota Country Times:

According to the PIHRA website “Indian relay is America’s oldest sport. It dates back over 400 years to when the horse was first re-introduced to the native cultures of the America’s. Lakota culture insists that this was in fact the second coming of the horse and its reintroduction and in fact the relationship to the plains cultures and the horse is perhaps much older than that is realized. Archeology seems to support that view.”

The PIHRA would add, “It appears that Indian relay developed independently amongst the Indian nations. Different cultures have different oral histories of its origins and most likely they are all true representations. To one tribe relay was used as war games, to another a relay to hunt the buffalo, to another a way to outrun the wild horses to enable their capture,” said the PIHRA.

The Modern version of the sport is currently experiencing a time of rapid growth and has over 50 teams currently vying for one of thirty spots in this year’s World Championships set to be held in Billings, MT on September, 22, 2016.

During the relay portion of the race Riders and Holders line up and await a starting gunshot. After the start riders leap on horses and race three laps exchanging horses after each lap. Fifteen horses and 20 warriors are on the track at the same time working for that seamless exchange. Each team consists of a rider, an Exchange Holder who holds the horse the rider mounts, a Mugger who catches the horse the rider jumps off, and a Back Holder who’s job it is to secure the extra horse during horse rotation.

The PIHRA requires team members to be dressed in tribal theme oriented regalia or traditional ribbon shirts while the rider’s regalia will display moccasins, breechcloths and/or leggings. All horses will be marked with traditional tribal war paint and decorations in colors determined by team tradition which may include medicine and feathers and any distinguishing personal symbol, mark and color.

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There’s much more to read and see at Professional Indian Horse Racing Association. Check the schedules, if you’re going to be in the areas this year, grab a ticket.

Remember the Removal, 2016.

Courtesy Cherokee Nation Remember the Removal Bike Ride Elder Ambassador and Cherokee Nation citizen Sammy Houseberg leads the cyclists to the Cherokee Nation Courthouse as they complete the 950-mile trek.

Courtesy Cherokee Nation
Remember the Removal Bike Ride Elder Ambassador and Cherokee Nation citizen Sammy Houseberg leads the cyclists to the Cherokee Nation Courthouse as they complete the 950-mile trek.

The 2016 Remember the Removal Bike Ride cyclists rolled onto the Cherokee Nation Courthouse lawn Thursday, June 23 officially ending their 950-mile journey retracing the Trail of Tears.

Eight Cherokee Nation cyclists and seven Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian riders traveled seven states starting June 5 to honor their Cherokee ancestors who were forced to make the trek on foot more than 175 years ago. […] The cyclists started in New Echota, Georgia, and traveled over three weeks across Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas to arrive in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

“This ride is an amazing journey. It’s vigorous and challenging, and I feel like we are taking away a family bond and a better sense of our tribe’s history, culture and ancestry,” said 2016 Remember the Removal cyclist and Cherokee Nation citizen Blayn Workman. “Because of this experience, I can also now tell others about what actually happened on the Trail of Tears. In school, you don’t learn about where they stopped along the trail or why they stopped or how many died, so now I can help further other people’s knowledge about the trail just as the ride helped further my knowledge.”

The cyclists visited various gravesites and historic landmarks significant to the history of the Trail of Tears, including Blythe Ferry in Tennessee, which was the last piece of Cherokee homeland the ancestors stood on before beginning the trek to Indian Territory. Riders visited Mantle Rock in Kentucky, which provided shelter to the ancestors as they waited for the Ohio River to thaw in order to cross safely, and also stopped to pray at Shellsford Cemetery in Tennessee, where Cherokees who died on the route are buried in unmarked graves.

2016 Remember the Removal Bike Ride participant and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Jack Cooper hugs his mother Jill after completing the 950-mile bike ride. (Courtesy Cherokee Nation)

2016 Remember the Removal Bike Ride participant and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians citizen Jack Cooper hugs his mother Jill after completing the 950-mile bike ride. (Courtesy Cherokee Nation)

[…]

The Cherokee Nation started the ride in 1984 as a leadership program and so that Cherokee youth would never forget the hardships of their Cherokee ancestors. Of the estimated 16,000 forced to make the journey to Indian Territory, approximately 4,000 died due to exposure, starvation and disease.

For the first time since the program began, participants received three hours of college credit from Northeastern State University after completion of the ride. Also, the U.S. National Park Service awarded a copy5,000 grant to the Remember the Removal Bike Ride for cyclists to promote the national parks along the trail.

The 2016 Remember the Removal Bike Ride included the following:

Cherokee Nation

Amicia Craig, 24, Tahlequah

Stephanie Hammer, 24, Tahlequah

Nikki Lewis, 23, Tahlequah

Kelsey Girty, 21, Warner

Amber Anderson, 23, Warr Acres

Kylar Trumbla, 23, Proctor

Blayn Workman, 16, Muldrow

Glendon VanSandt, 16, Siloam Springs

Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Marisa Cabe, 49, Wolfetown, North Carolina

Cole Saunooke, 16, Yellowhill, North Carolina

Tom Hill, 57, Yellowhill, North Carolina

Tosh Welch, 38, Wolfetown, North Carolina

J.D. Arch, 49, Wolfetown, North Carolina

Jack Cooper, 15, Birdtown, North Carolina

Aaron Hogner, 31, Wolfetown, North Carolina

The Cherokee Nation also had Cherokee Nation citizens Stacy Leeds, Dean of Law at the University of Arkansas, ride as a historian, Vietnam veteran Sammy Houseberg ride as an ambassador and Kevin Jackson ride as a Cherokee Nation marshal and trainer.

The 2016 Remember the Removal Bike Ride is chronicled on Facebook.

ICTMN has the full story.

Battle at the Greasy Grass.

Indians charge Custer’s cavalry. (Courtesy National Anthropological Archives/Smithsonian Institution)

Indians charge Custer’s cavalry. (Courtesy National Anthropological Archives/Smithsonian Institution)

140 years ago, on June 25th, 1876, the Battle at the Greasy Grass was fought. Lakota, Dakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho were camped at the Greasy Grass along side the Little Bighorn River. What was one of the few victories of Indians against the colonial military is historically described as a tragedy, the horrific slaughter of a noble man and great military leader. Poor Custer. Certainly, at the time, the battle at the Greasy Grass was depicted as a tragedy to be avenged, those animals (Indians) needing to be put down, and we were. It wasn’t long after Greasy Grass that much more effective arms were granted to the military, repeating rifles rather than single shot, etc. Crazy Horse was killed in captivity by soldiers. That was followed by the Massacre of Wounded Knee. The U.S. has held a grudge over the Greasy Grass for all these years. Everywhere, there are monuments littered of those who slaughtered countless Indians, including Custer, but there are no monuments to the valiant fighters of the Greasy Grass, of those who saved and protected so many lives, as there were six to eight thousand Indians gathered at the Greasy Grass.

Ruth Hopkins has an article at Last Real Indians, Fighting with Spirit, How Greasy Grass Was Won.

ICTMN has an article, The Battle of the Greasy Grass 140 Years Later: The Complete Story in 18 Drawings.

The Lakota Times (subscription only) notes that “The Battle of Greasy Grass/The Battle of Little Bighorn”will begin at 2 p.m. on June 25th. Admission for Learning Forums is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $9 for students, & half off for members (includes museum admission). The Journey Museum is located in Rapid City at 222 New York St, 2 blocks east of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center right across from the Club for Boys.

A 2010 article from Smithsonian Magazine highlights the Battle at the Greasy Grass from the point of view of the victors, a rare case when the victors are Indians.

Happy Victory Day.

Jim Boyd has walked on.

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Jim Boyd, musician and Colville tribal chairman has walked on. Jim was well known for his music as a member of the bands XIT, Greywolf and Winterhawk, and for four songs in the iconic Indian Country classic movie Smoke Signals. Jim Boyd was also instrumental in the recent historic canoe journey and intertribal gathering, which has brought profound joy to so many people. Also instrumental in that effort was Virgil Seymour, who also walked on recently, another great loss to the Colville people.

Jim has walked on, but I will look to the stars, listen to his voice, and whisper thank you.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_fFWrfI1YLU

Native Music Icon and Colville Chairman Jim Boyd Walks OnJim Boyd’s Passing the Second of Two Devastating Losses for Colvilles‘There are No Words’: Reviving Canoe Culture on the Upper Columbia River.

25.

William McKinley took office as the Dawes Commission, headed by Henry Dawes, was dismantling the Five Civilized Tribes. Established in 1893, the commission was charged with convincing the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and Cherokee to accept individual land allotments and register with the federal Dawes Rolls.

William McKinley took office as the Dawes Commission, headed by Henry Dawes, was dismantling the Five Civilized Tribes. Established in 1893, the commission was charged with convincing the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and Cherokee to accept individual land allotments and register with the federal Dawes Rolls.

One of the last major armed conflicts between American Indians and the U.S. Army occurred during William McKinley’s watch.

Nineteen months after McKinley took office as the 25th president of the United States, the Third Infantry chased an Ojibwe man to his reservation on the shores of Leech Lake, a 110-acre body of water in central Minnesota, where the man sought refuge from white laws. Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, 62, was being transported to Duluth as a witness in a federal bootlegging trial when he escaped, triggering military action to recapture him.

Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, not to be confused with the two Ojibwa chiefs by the same name, was an Ojibwa man who lived on Leech Lake. His escape from unjust arrest kicked off a battle between Leech Lake Ojibwa and a small U.S. Army contingent. (Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society)

Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, not to be confused with the two Ojibwa chiefs by the same name, was an Ojibwa man who lived on Leech Lake. His escape from unjust arrest kicked off a battle between Leech Lake Ojibwa and a small U.S. Army contingent. (Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society)

The incident came as relationships deteriorated between the federal government and the Ojibwe, who subsisted on the sale of timber from the reservation. Timber companies, exploiting a loophole in the law that allowed them to take dead pine and pay a fraction of what it was worth, were setting brush fires on the reservation to make the trees appear dead and harvesting the wood on the inside.

Frustrated, Ojibwe leaders at Leech Lake sought redress from the government. In late September 1898, they petitioned McKinley to stop the practice.

“Our people are carrying a heavy burden, and in order that they may not be crushed by it, we humbly petition you to send a commission to investigate the existing troubles here,” they wrote in a letter. “We now have only the pine lands of our reservations for our future subsistence and support, but the manner in which we are being defrauded out of these has alarmed us.”

McKinley did nothing to intervene.

Meanwhile, a U.S. Marshal arrived on the reservation to arrest two men accused of helping Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig escape, but a group of 40 Ojibwe overtook the marshal and set the men free. The marshal returned to his base and requested military assistance to arrest everyone who helped free the men.

On October 5, 1898, an army of 80 soldiers—mostly inexperienced—descended by boat on the eastern shore of Leech Lake. A soldier fired first and a force of 19 Ojibwe responded in a conflict known as the battle of Sugar Point. Six soldiers and one white civilian were killed.

[…]

McKinley took office as the Dawes Commission, headed by Henry Dawes, was dismantling the Five Civilized Tribes. Established in 1893, the commission was charged with convincing the Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, Seminole and Cherokee to accept individual land allotments and register with the federal Dawes Rolls.

Prior treaty agreements exempted the Five Civilized Tribes from the Dawes Act of 1887, which allowed the President to break up reservation land and reassign it to individual allottees. But the Curtis Act of 1898, whose purpose was to dismember the sovereign status of the Five Civilized Tribes, overturned those treaties and abolished the tribes’ governments, invalidated their laws and dissolved their courts.

More formally known as An Act for the Protection of the People of the Indian Territory, the Curtis Act also extinguished land ownership claims, allowing the President to break apart tribal lands into smaller portions and open “surplus” lands to white settlers.

A proponent of assimilation policy and the allotment program, McKinley signed the act in June 1898. Six months later, he told Congress that the Five Civilized Tribes were showing “marked progress.”

The act was “having a salutary effect upon the nations composing the five tribes,” he said. “The Dawes Commission reports that the most gratifying results and greater advance toward the attainment of the objects of the Government have been secured in the past year than in any previous year.”

[…]

“Hawaii was an important strategic asset,” Gould said. “McKinley couldn’t have cared less about the Native population in strategic terms.”

In his final message to Congress, in December 1900, McKinley spoke of the “uncivilized tribes” on the newly annexed islands.

“Many of those tribes are now living in peace and contentment, surrounded by a civilization to which they are unable or unwilling to conform,” he said. “Such tribal governments should, however, be subjected to wise and firm regulation, and, without undue or petty interference, constant and active effort should be exercised to prevent barbarous practices and introduce civilized customs.”

Full article at ICTMN.

Roots of Orlando Massacre Run Deep.

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The tragedy that occurred in Orlando in the early morning hours of June 12 did not begin a year ago, or a decade ago. Its historical roots go back almost 200 years, to the tragedies that occurred in the swamps of Florida, when the U.S. Army forcibly removed the Indigenous Peoples from the area.

Today, America is indisputably a nation of civilian gun owners, and a major reason for that is those very Seminole Wars. The NRA estimates there are 300 million guns in the hands of everyday citizens, and the argument that often justifies that extraordinary number is the “right to bear arms” contained in the Bill of Rights.

Pamela Haag, author of The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture disputes that. She writes, “We became a gun culture not because the gun was symbolically intrinsic to Americans or special to our identity, or because the gun was something exceptional in our culture, but precisely because it was not… It was like a buckle or a pin, an unexceptional object of commerce.”

In 1837, during the very early days of the transition from the art of gunsmithing to the mass production of firearms, Samuel Colt advertised his “Patent Repeating Rifle” in the New York Courier and Enquirer, with little result. The average citizen did not need multi-firing arms and was not willing to pay extra for them, according to a gun expert quoted by Haag.

Then Colt decided to hawk the repeaters to the U.S. military. Having failed to gain the support of the head of the Army’s Ordinance Department, he took his product directly to field officers. Specifically, to officers engaged in the Seminole Wars in the Florida Everglades.

A precursor to excess military equipment being dumped into cops shops all over uStates, and amped up departments to justify said military equipment.

One Col. William S. Harney, sent by President Andrew Jackson to Florida to wrest control of the land from the Seminoles, was losing, in part because the Seminoles had observed that the soldiers were defenseless when they were reloading their single-shot weapons. In 1835, the Seminoles defeated the U.S. Army in what was one of the military’s biggest defeats in the Indian Wars. The Dade Battle left more than 100 Army troops on the battlefield; reportedly only three of the force survived.

Colt himself delivered 500 rifles and a few pistols to Harney in St. Augustine in 1838. Harney defeated the Seminoles, writing later, “I honestly believe that but for these arms, the Indians would now be luxuriating in the everglades of Florida,” instead of having been forced marched to Oklahoma.

The Second Seminole War was fought near what are now the cities of Tampa, Ocala and Bushnell in Central Florida. Ocala and Bushnell are just north of Orlando.

Colt’s new invention – the repeating rifle – won Andrew Jackson’s bloody war against the Indians in Florida.

[…]

That means several million people have paid from $400 to $2,500 to own a kind of rifle – a repeater rifle – that has been linked to tragedy for almost 200 years in U.S. history.

We’ve ceased to be a blood-soaked nation. We’re a nation with blood overflowing. It has to stop.

Full article at ICTMN.

Four More Heads.

Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. This front page of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper ran with portraits of 11 Modoc Indians, who ended up as federal prisoners.

Courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.
This front page of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper ran with portraits of 11 Modoc Indians, who ended up as federal prisoners.

The four Modocs dangling from the gallows at Fort Klamath, Oregon, on October 3, 1873, had barely been cut down when the ghoulish souvenir-taking started. Soldiers auctioned off a hank of hair shorn from the head of Modoc leader Kientpoos (a.k.a. Captain Jack) to fit the noose around his neck, and they sold unraveled gallows rope for $5 a strand. Thomas Cabaniss, a physician from nearby Yreka, California, who had worked for the army during the Modoc War, claimed two halters. Other spectators snatched pieces and parts from the gallows. Meanwhile, in a nearby tent, military medical officer Henry McElderry was taking the army’s share of hanging-day mementos.

This image of Kientpoos (Captain Jack) was among those taken by Louis Herman Heller during and after The Modoc War. (Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

This image of Kientpoos (Captain Jack) was among those taken by Louis Herman Heller during and after The Modoc War. (Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

In 1868, George Otis Alexander, then assistant surgeon general of the United States Army, circulated an order among military physicians requiring them to help the Army Medical Museum’s effort to build its collection of Native crania. The museum had already amassed 143 skulls and wanted to add more.

“The chief purpose … in forming this collection,” Alexander explained, “is to aid in the progress of anthropological science by obtaining measurements of a large number of skulls of aboriginal races of North America.”

The official purpose for collecting Indian skulls was comparative study of racial differences. George A. Otis, MD, of the Army Medical Museum, after studying the “osteological peculiarities” of the skulls collected up to 1870, announced that America’s Native peoples “must be assigned a lower position in the human scale than has been believed heretofore.” Lewis Henry Morgan, a pioneering physical anthropologist who had sought unsuccessfully to be appointed Indian Affairs commissioner, wrote that Native Americans “have the skulls and brains of barbarians, and must grow toward civilization.” Thus did the crude, pseudo-Darwinist science of the time support herding Natives on to reservations to learn English and farming.

 This image of Black Jim was among those taken by Louis Herman Heller during and after The Modoc War. (Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

This image of Black Jim was among those taken by Louis Herman Heller during and after The Modoc War. (Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Army doctors in Indian country could augment the collection by gathering skulls and forwarding them to Washington and the Army Medical Museum. Accurate statistical analysis required as many specimens as possible: “… it is chiefly desired to procure sufficiently large series of adult crania of the principal Indian tribes to furnish accurate average estimates. Medical officers will enhance the value of their contributions by transmitting with the specimens the fullest attainable memoranda, specifying the locality where the skulls were derived, the presumed age and sex….”

The army’s medical officers responded enthusiastically, swelling the collection to more than 1,000 skulls by the time of the Fort Klamath hangings. Some remains came from ancient burial sites, such as the mounds of the eastern United States, others from tribal cemeteries captured during military operations. Epidemics were a boon for the collectors, since, besides felling Indians in droves, they tore apart Native societies and made it difficult for survivors to protect their dead against white grave robbers. And then there were the many battles and executions.

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This image of Boston Charley was among those taken by Louis Herman Heller during and after The Modoc War. (Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Military medical officers enjoyed easy access to all these opportunities. Plus, they had the surgical skills to dissect away soft tissues and prepare heads for boiling in water or steeping in quicklime to leave only the bare bone the Army Medical Museum wanted.

The Army Medical Museum collection had grown to 2,206 skulls by 1898, when it was turned over to the Smithsonian Institution. The collection had fallen into disuse as academic anthropologists adopted different modes of study, and the museum no longer wanted to maintain it. Almost a century later, the skulls became part of the more than 6,000 individual human remains offered for repatriation by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of Natural History through federal legislation passed in the 1980s and 1990s. The Modoc skulls were among the remains repatriated.

Despite the federal government’s latter-day efforts to make this wrong right, the Army Medical Museum’s collection marks the United States as the only national government ever to officially use warfare to collect human skulls.

This image of Schonchin was among those taken by Louis Herman Heller during and after The Modoc War. (Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

This image of Schonchin was among those taken by Louis Herman Heller during and after The Modoc War. (Housed at: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Full Story at ICTMN. And before anyone tsks, shakes their head and murmurs, thank goodness we’re past that now, we aren’t. We’re currently surrounded by so called ‘race realists’ and white nationalists who think this is great science, and we should probably do more of this sort of thing. Don’t go dismissing it, everyone thinks it can’t happen to them.

Lego Nostalgia.

At least for us older people.

LEGO designers have developed a new flashback kit, an advanced model that replicates many of the iconic elements of a vintage 1960 Volkswagen Beetle. Built using 1,167 pieces, the bright blue replica has several operational features, including a pop-up hood and truck, flip-down seats, and a removable roof to peep the steering wheel and other accessories found inside.

Designers made sure not to leave out any detail, including a model of the original 4-cylinder air-cooled engine, fuel tank, rounded mudguards, interchangeable license plates, and tiny window decals. On the roof of the vehicle, LEGO also added a rack that fits a tiny surfboard and cooler containing ice and bottled drinks. In total, the new kit is 15 centimeters high, 29 centimeters long, and 12 centimeters wide. The kit becomes available to the public on July 17.

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I would have much preferred a shiny, bright red beetle, but you can’t everything. I’ll probably still have to indulge in this.

Via Colossal Art.

24. (22)

When Grover Cleveland, an assimilation supporter, started his first term, an estimated 260,000 American Indians lived on 171 reservations comprising 134 million acres of land in 21 states. Whitehouse.gov

When Grover Cleveland, an assimilation supporter, started his first term, an estimated 260,000 American Indians lived on 171 reservations comprising 134 million acres of land in 21 states. Whitehouse.gov

Grover Cleveland opened his second term as president of the United States with a call for “humanity and consistency” toward Indians as efforts continued to assimilate them into mainstream American culture.

“Our relations with the Indians located within our border impose upon us responsibilities we cannot escape,” he said in his second inaugural address, in March 1893. “Every effort should be made to lead them, through the paths of civilization and education, to self-supporting and independent citizenship. In the meantime, as the nation’s wards, they should be promptly defended against the cupidity of designing men and shielded from every influence or temptation that retards their advancement.”

[…]

The day before Cleveland took office a second time, in March 1893, Congress authorized the Dawes Commission, which extended the allotment policy to the Five Civilized Tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole). The commission, headed by Henry Dawes, also introduced citizenship records called the Dawes Rolls, which required individuals to enroll by claiming only one line of ancestry—even if they had mixed heritage from several different tribes.

[…]

The Dawes Rolls, which ultimately stripped some individuals of their ancestry, are still used to determine citizenship or as a requirement for tribal membership. The federal government uses the Dawes Rolls to determine blood-quantum status when issuing Certificates of Indian Blood.

Cleveland’s second term, which came on the heels of the Wounded Knee Massacre and was the first administration free of Indian wars, was marked by a distinct change in federal relationships with Indians. Four months after Cleveland took office, Frederick Jackson Turner delivered his “Frontier Thesis” to a gathering of historians at the World’s Fair in Chicago, an enormous event celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s voyage.

Turner, a professional historian, declared that the American frontier was gone, a statement that came three years after the U.S. Census Bureau announced the disappearance of a contiguous frontier line.

Calling the frontier “the meeting point between savagery and civilization,” Turner argued that America’s unique character was defined by “the influence of the frontier.” He pointed to “the disintegration of savagery” as one of several developmental stages America endured on its path to industrialization.

[…]

The end of the frontier also marked a new era for Indians. In his first message to Congress, in December 1893, Cleveland said the government had a “sacred duty” to improve the condition of the Indians.

“I am sure that secular education and moral and religious teaching must be important factors in any effort to save the Indian and lead him to civilization,” Cleveland said. “I believe, too, that the relinquishment of tribal relations and the holding of land in severalty may in favorable conditions aid this consummation.”

During his second term, Cleveland opened to white settlers “surplus” lands purchased from the Yankton Sioux in South Dakota, the Alsea in Oregon, the Kickapoo in Oklahoma and the Nez Perce in Idaho. The allotment program, which opened surplus land to settlers, diminished Indian land holdings from more than 155 million acres in 1881 to about 78 million in 1900.

In his final message to Congress, in December 1896, Cleveland announced the discovery of “a very valuable deposit of gilsonite or asphaltum” on the Uncompahgre Ute reservation in Utah. Calling the find an “important source of public revenue,” Cleveland assured Congress that the government would secure a “fair share” of its value, while a “nominal sum” would be extended to “interested individuals.”

[…]

In the same speech, Cleveland called himself a “sincere friend of the Indian,” and reported that the Indian population topped 177,000. More than 110,000 individuals had accepted allotments, and 23,000 of the 38,000 total school-age children were enrolled in nearly 200 government-operated Indian schools.

“It may be said in general terms that in every particular the improvement of the Indians under Government care has been most marked and encouraging,” he said.

Alysa Landry’s full article here.

Helen Chavez has walked on.

Helen and Cesar Chavez with six of their eight children in 1969 at the United Farm Workers’ “Forty Acres” property outside Delano. Standing from left are Anna, Eloise and Sylvia. Seated from left are Paul, Elizabeth and Anthony. (United Farm Workers)

Helen and Cesar Chavez with six of their eight children in 1969 at the United Farm Workers’ “Forty Acres” property outside Delano. Standing from left are Anna, Eloise and Sylvia. Seated from left are Paul, Elizabeth and Anthony. (United Farm Workers)

Helen Chavez, the widow of Cesar Chavez, who aided the farmworkers union her husband founded by keeping the books, walking the picket line and being arrested — all while raising their eight children — died Monday at a Bakersfield, Calif., hospital. She was 88.

A statement from the Cesar Chavez Foundation said she died of natural causes and was surrounded by family members.

Though notoriously reticent and uncomfortable with media attention, Chavez sometimes found herself in the spotlight alongside her husband, who led the United Farm Workers of America for 31 years. In 1978 she was arrested and convicted with her husband for picketing a cantaloupe field where workers were represented by the Teamsters Union.

Yet at the height of the movement, she remained in her husband’s shadow. She seemed to push past nervousness whenever she spoke publicly. “I want to see justice for the farmworkers,” she told a reporter for the Los Angeles Times in 1976. “I was a farmworker and I know what it is like to work in the fields.”

The Chavez’s were another major window for me, in early life. They helped me to see past my own privilege, and I was honoured to help work with and for their causes when I was a teenager. Goodbye, Helen, and thank you.

Full Story Here.

23.

Nineteen days after taking office, Benjamin Harrison signed a proclamation opening Indian Territory in Oklahoma to settlers.

Nineteen days after taking office, Benjamin Harrison signed a proclamation opening Indian Territory in Oklahoma to settlers.

Nineteen days after taking office, Benjamin Harrison signed a proclamation opening Indian Territory in Oklahoma to settlers.

The March 23, 1889 proclamation made 1.9 million acres of “unassigned lands” available to white settlers and kicked off one of the most chaotic chapters in American history. At high noon on April 22, a gunshot rang out and an estimated 50,000 settlers crossed into the territory by wagon, horseback, bicycle, train or foot and claimed all the available land before nightfall.

The Oklahoma Land Run came on the heels of two acts signed by Harrison’s predecessor, President Grover Cleveland. The Dawes Act of 1887 authorized the President to divide Indian land into individual allotments and the Indian Appropriations Act of 1889 officially opened surplus or unassigned lands to white settlers.

Known for its “boomers,” settlers campaigning for the land to be opened, and “sooners,” those who illegally entered the territory ahead of time, the land rush has become an iconic era in the history of the West. Thousands of Americans gained new hope as they claimed 160-acre parcels and the opportunity that came with land ownership.

But the rush also set the tone for Harrison’s presidency, which was marked by similar land grabs and last-ditch efforts by Indians to hold on to their territory.

During Harrison’s four years in office, six states were admitted to the Union, including four during his first year alone: North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington and Montana. Idaho and Wyoming were admitted in 1890.

Harrison also forced the Sioux Nation in the Dakotas to divide into separate reservations and relinquish 11 million acres of land, and the Crow to give up 1.8 million acres of land for general settlement in Montana. As more Indians accepted land allotments, Harrison also opened to white settlers “surplus” lands acquired from the Cheyenne and Arapaho nations and the Sac and Fox.

[…]

Harrison was less inclined to preserve the lives and ways of living Indians. In his first message to Congress, in December 1889, Harrison called Indians an “ignorant and helpless people” whose best chance at survival was assimilation.

Reservations were generally surrounded by white settlements and the only way to manage the Indian was to “push him upward into the estate of self-supporting and responsible citizen,” he said. Adults should be located on farms and children should be enrolled in school.

“It is to be regretted that the policy of breaking up the tribal relation and of dealing with the Indian as an individual did not appear earlier in our legislation,” Harrison told Congress. “Large reservations held in common and the maintenance of the authority of the chiefs and headmen have deprived the individual of every incentive to the exercise of thrift, and the annuity has contributed an affirmative impulse toward a state of confirmed pauperism.”

Indians viewed these policies as campaigns to take their land, and some sought answers from spiritual sources. In the winter of 1889, a Paiute man named Wokova had a vision of the Creator and the dead of his nation. When he returned from the vision, Wokova encouraged his people to work hard and live peacefully with the white settlers, promising that “eventually they would be reunited with the dead in a world without death or sickness or old age,” Stephen Cornell wrote in his 1990 book, The Return of the Native: American Indian Political Resurgence.

Wovoka also brought back a ceremonial dance he said would bring about this transformation. Known as the Ghost Dance, the ceremony quickly spread to other tribes, including the Sioux at Pine Ridge, South Dakota. Burned by a legacy of broken promises, the Sioux adopted the Ghost Dance and “gave to the prophecies a hostile content: In their version, the whites were to be annihilated by a massive whirlwind,” Cornell wrote.

Government officials in Washington, fearing the ceremony could incite violence, sent military troops to Pine Ridge. Leaders of the Ghost Dance movement retreated to the reservation’s isolated northern boundary. In the early morning of December 15, 1890, agents surprised Chief Sitting Bull and tried to arrest him. When Sitting Bull resisted, agents shot him at close range, escalating tensions between the Sioux and the U.S. military.

On the morning of December 29, 1890, soldiers from the Seventh Cavalry perched on a hill above Wounded Knee Creek and shot unarmed men, women and children. An estimated 146 Sioux and 29 soldiers were killed in the infamous Wounded Knee Massacre, which marked the last time the U.S. militia systematically slaughtered Indians.

Harrison, who had a reputation as “the human iceberg,” took no responsibility for what happened at Wounded Knee. He honored the Seventh Cavalry for their distinguished service, and 20 soldiers later received the Medal of Honor for their part in the massacre.

In his third message to Congress, a year after the massacre, Harrison admitted that the Sioux had some “just complaints” stemming from the reduction of rations and the delay in receiving government services. But, Harrison said, “the Sioux tribes are naturally warlike and turbulent” and posed a threat to white settlers near the reservation. The “uprising” was handled with a militia that prioritized the “thorough protection” of the settlers and “of bringing the hostiles into subjection with the least possible loss of life.”

During his final year in office, Harrison commemorated the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of America. In a proclamation issued in July 1892, Harrison appointed October 21 as a general holiday set aside for citizens to “honor the discoverer and their appreciation of the four completed centuries of American life.”

Alysa Landry’s full column is here.

Crushed Mummy Pigment.

Mummy brown, Egyptian brown, or caput mortuum (literally, “dead head” in medieval Latin) was a rich pigment varying in hue from burnt to raw umber, made primarily from white pitch, myrrh, and ground-up ancient Egyptians and their pets.

Mummy brown, Egyptian brown, or caput mortuum (literally, “dead head” in medieval Latin) was a rich pigment varying in hue from burnt to raw umber, made primarily from white pitch, myrrh, and ground-up ancient Egyptians and their pets.

Someone, at some point in history, thought, hey, here’s an idea—let’s make paint out of crushed up mummies. Mummy, or Egyptian Brown, peaked in usage during the 18th century, in British painting especially. The “raw materials,” however, were a hot commodity long before that, as mummy powder was believed to have all kinds of magical healing properties and were a mainstay in 16th century European apothecaries. “In the course of at least 300 years of trade, an unrecorded number of archaeological objects was destroyed in order to make pigment,” says Khandekar of the highly unethical practice, whose popularity finally petered out in the early 1900s.

The Creators Project has an excellent article, along with some wonderful photos, about Harvard’s vast collection of rare pigments in their conservation lab. I was aware of all the pigments except for Mummy. That one left me rather stunned.