Sand Creek 1864, and the Washita 1868
Two notable events in the history of the Cheyenne and the nations at large as it was part of a prolonged campaign conducted by the U.S. government to defeat and oppress indigenous people in this land.
Sand Creek was particularly heinous as it was directed at an encampment led by Black Kettle who had pledged peace, and even while under attack waved an American flag given to them.
The death toll on that day has been estimated in excess of a hundred sixty people-the majority of them women and children. Of the men who were in the camp they had remained there while younger more able men had rode off to hunt.
I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces … With knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors … By whom were they mutilated? By the United States troops …
—- John S. Smith, Congressional Testimony of Mr. John S. Smith, 1865
Fingers and ears were cut off the bodies for the jewelry they carried. The body of White Antelope, lying solitarily in the creek bed, was a prime target. Besides scalping him the soldiers cut off his nose, ears, and testicles-the last for a tobacco pouch …
—- Stan Hoig
Jis to think of that dog Chivington and his dirty hounds, up thar at Sand Creek. His men shot down squaws, and blew the brains out of little innocent children. You call sich soldiers Christians, do ye? And Indians savages? What der yer ‘spose our Heavenly Father, who made both them and us, thinks of these things? I tell you what, I don’t like a hostile red skin any more than you do. And when they are hostile, I’ve fought ’em, hard as any man. But I never yet drew a bead on a squaw or papoose, and I despise the man who would.
—- Kit Carson
Washita was conducted during the winter, as was Sand Creek, when the people were more vulnerable-and was led by Custer at the head of the 7th Calvary.
It was a time in the aftermath of Sand Creek that various nations had aligned and were camping along the Washita river.
Among them were the Southern and Northern Cheyenne, Comanche, Arapaho, Kiowa-Apache, and Kiowa scattered along the river some ten to fifteen miles much the same as those Custer attacked at the Big Horn.
A part of Custer’s strategy was to attack the Southern Cheyenne encampment and take as many women, children, and the aged as possible to employ as a human shield, knowing that warriors wouldn’t mount a counter attack for fear of endangering them.
We’ve seen similar tactics throughout history, and more commonly now in the middle east where rocket or mortar emplacements are setup in the midst of non combatant civilians, in hospitals and school yards-it is a cowardly thing to do now and then.
General Phil Sheridan of Civil War infamy noted for his scorched earth policy and as Custer’s superior had ordered that any warriors taken prisoner were to be summarily shot or hung. And as with Sand Creek women and children were not excluded as targets.
So when Custer and the 7th rode into the Big Horn it was pay back time.
In this day of the internet while some examples of the atrocities committed during the “Indian wars” are more publicized than others people shouldn’t forget that every nation suffered, every nation had it’s own Wounded Knee or Sand Creek, all equally devastating, they shouldn’t forget that some nations were driven to extinction, that languages have been lost, or that the unmarked graves of this countries first people litter the land-not on foreign shores, but the shores of this land, our land.
A people who did what any would do-they fought to preserve a way of life, their own people, and a land they had inhabited for countless generations.
War isn’t glamorous, atrocities are committed by both sides, and I will make no effort to deny that-what I will say is if the boat people had never arrived, if following their arrival we had been left to be ourselves, if our rights had been respected,if we had been seen and treated as equals, as fellow human beings, if a single treaty had been honored and upheld the death toll would have been smaller for both sides.
Now we die due to shorter life spans,incidents of health related disease exceeding the national average, or for that matter any industrialized “civilized” country. We die as the result of alcohol and drug abuse, of sudden infant death death syndrome, of our children being still born and of suicide at a greater per capita rate than other demographic.
This in the “land of the free”-this in the land that presents itself upon the international stage as a champion of the oppressed and speaks of the human rights of others…. in other places.
A country that says every person has inalienable rights-yet has long denied or withheld these rights they speak of when it comes to the nations.
If we weren’t losing the land through appropriation we were losing it by selling, bartering, or leasing.
Now with the looming sale of pe sla another loss approaches.
A lot of rumors and information flying around the internet now related to pe sla, some may be true and some….well it’s the net. But they raise a few questions for me.
One would be how did this land wind up in the hands of the present “owners” in the first place? Was it appropriated, leased, or sold to them? If so by whom?
Regarding the latter two was there no sense of sacredness during such a time of leasing or selling?
Secondly there seems to be some questions regarding Chase Iron Eyes involvement, with comments being made of his participation in the fund raising, organizing of the rally, and invitation to Dennis Banks and Clyde Bellecourt to appear for a fee at the Vern Traversie rally.
The question I have related to that is if a rally and fund raiser were intended to assist Vern Traversie what justification can there be to use any part of the money to PAY anyone to put in an appearance, whose idea was it in the first place, and who the hell is Dennis Banks or Clyde to take money from a blind man who can’t even see them?
Who else got a piece of the pie for showing up?
This is a blind man who just had heart surgery and probably could use the money himself as it was intended. Of course there may be those who see a bigger purse in a potential law suit, and the more noise that can be made the more that could reflect on a possible settlement.
If such a suit eventuates and prevails I would be very interested in seeing how the judgement is divvied up-who gets what and why. If “celebrities” will be called as witnesses.
Secondly as an attorney and /or organizer was any “compensation” given to Chase? If so why, if it is all about the nations and looking out for each other?
I’m not making any accusations, only curious about things and would like to know all the particulars.
Pe Sla should be saved (as it is there are something like six national parks within the boundaries of the Black Hills-Mt. Rushmore being the best known) and if so deeded in the names of every person of indigenous ancestry it has meaning to-which transcends the lakota.
This is land the Arikara, Arapahoe, Pawnee, Kiowa, and Cheyenne considered their’s long before the Lakota were driven out of their homeland by the Ojibwe and moved westward, despite the Ft. Laramie Treaty of 1851 and the promised annuity of $50,000 a year to the Lakota.
And If I’m not mistaken the Cheyenne made another effort to have that recognized in the 1920’s. It along with Devil’s Tower and Wind Cave are scared places to more than one nation, that and the history of it should be kept in perspective.
Colony Courier, Jan. 16, 1913.
White Frog, Northern Cheyenne from Tongue River Agency, Montana, was here not long ago visiting friends. He says Northern Cheyennes and Northern Arapahoes of Wyoming have been counciling a good deal about the Black Hills, claiming this country belongs to them and the Sioux had no right to sell it to the government. These two tribes are going to Washington to see about it.
No one-NOT A SINGLE PERSON should be compensated in any manner for any effort they may make related to this.
As it stands now with a goal of a million dollars (which may or may not be sufficient even if raised) and a little more than two days left to raise it in I’m curious to know what will become of the money if the effort isn’t successful-will it be returned to the donors or transferred to another project? Are there going to be “handling” fees like paypal?
If it is to be transferred has that been made public?
For many there is a latent and entirely understandable suspicion about any who associate with the old AIM heirarchy -their track record is responsible for that, and should be a consideration for any who seek to involve them in anything to do with funds or donations.
It amounts to little more than politics just as we see on the national stage- election time so trot out Bill Clinton, Bush Sr. etc etc. the parallel is unmistakable,only we are forced to endure Banks or Means.
Somebody should tell the above we’ve heard it all before and their time has passed.
The heading for this effort should be more inclusive than the one being employed – Pe’ Sla: Help Save Lakota Sioux Sacred Land!
Have some among the Lakota forgotten in this day of the internet that they didn’t stand alone against Custer-that in the plains wars other nations fought, suffered, and died as well? Have they forgotten others roamed the Black Hills before they did? Others like the Arikara, Arapahoe, Pawnee, Kiowa, and Cheyenne.
Pe Sla is much more than “Lakota Sioux Sacred Land” as in a singular context.
I would encourage any who are able to contribute to this effort-and to do so in the name of the Nations, plural. That would speak to an understanding and unity that seems to be missing.