Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part III

( – promoted by navajo)


photo credit: Aaron Huey

The Battle of Lost River

In Part II, I had concluded with the Third Generation’s great crisis. The Modoc were destroyed as an independent people, and forced into being part of the Klamath Tribes on Klamath Indian land, to the north, in Oregon. Keintpoos with Cho’ocks and Scarfaced Charley and their families had left the reservation to go back to lost river. The Battle of Lost River, which broke out when the army and a Linkville militia attempted to force the return of the people, and their disarmament, ended with deaths and injuries on both sides. The Modoc all retreated near Tule Lake to Lava Beds. Hooker Jim’s band massacred settlers in the area around the lake, right at the heart of the Applegate Trail in Modoc country.

It was the last day of November, 1872.



  • Old Schonchin

  • Schonchin John, his brother

  • Keintpoos, or Captain Jack

  • Winema, known as Toby Riddle, interpreter

  • Cho’ocks, or Curley-Headed Doctor, spiritual leader

  • Hooker Jim

  • Scarfaced Charley

  • Boston Charley
  • Slolux
  • Brancho
  • Black Jim
  • Shacknasty Jim
  • Bogus Charley
  • Steamboat Frank

  • Ellen’s Man

  • Mary, Keintpoos’ sister

  • Lizzie, Keintpoos’ wife
  • Old Wife (of Keintpoos)

  • Rose, Keintpoos’ daughter.
  • Stimitchuas, or Jennie Clinton
  • Elvira Blow


  • Ulysses S. Grant, US president

  • General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman

  • E.S. Canby, Brigadier General, peace commissioner

  • Alfred B. Meacham, Oregon Indian Agent, peace commissioner

  • Rev. Thomas Eleazer, peace commissioner
  • Elijah Steele, Indian Agent for Northern California
  • Lindsay Applegate, founder of the Applegate trail, Oregon Indian Subagent

  • Frank Riddle, peace commissioner, settler, husband to Winema/Toby

  • L.S. Dyar, peace commissioner

  • Eadweard Muybridge, photographer

  • End Game

    Lava Beds proved a brilliant strategic move by the Modoc. Lava Beds is a naturally complex series of trenches, caves, and volcanic features. One species of fern present in one cave is not found except for hundreds of miles to the west, in far more moderate lands. Perhaps this is an appropriate symbol of the Modoc’s refuge. Only a few dozen Modoc warriors were able to elude and frustrate the US Army, modernized though the Army was, and well equipped after the Civil War and Indian wars, in the dead of winter.

    Already they wanted Keintpoos for murder; in keeping with tradition, he had slain a healer who had failed to cure his sick child. His family, including his wife Lizzie and young daughter Rose, dwelled in their own cave.  The cave is exposed to the sky, but they all remained alive and hidden during the ordeal.

    Stimitchuas and other Modoc children were sent to retrieve the cartridges from fallen soldiers.

    Ojibwa has already delivered an overview of the Modoc War of 1872-1873, so I will try to emphasize other aspects to the story while explaining the basics. From Ojibwa:

    The spiritual leader of the group was Curley Headed Doctor [Cho’ocks]. In the lava beds, he had a rope of tule reeds woven, dyed red, and stretched around the campsite. He claimed that no American soldier could cross this rope. Since no soldiers cross this rope during the conflict, the Modoc assumed that it worked.

    …In one encounter, the 400 soldiers who were sent in to subdue the Modoc encountered a thick fog and soon retreated in panic and disarray. From the Modoc perspective, Curley Headed Doctor’s medicine had worked. He had brought a fog to confuse the enemy, and then he turned the soldiers’  bullets so that no Modoc was hurt.

    In another instance, a large patrol blundered into a carefully planned ambush. The army and the press labeled this a massacre. The soldiers had left on the maneuver as though they were going to a picnic rather than a battle. One of the Modoc leaders, Scarface Charley, had called down to some of the survivors: “We don’t want to kill you all in one day” and through this generosity several soldiers escaped.

    In one incident, the army soldiers found an old woman-described as being 80 or 90 years old-in the rocks near the stronghold. The lieutenant asked: “is there anyone here who will put that old hag out of the way?” A soldier then placed his carbine to her head and shot her.

    Embedded Journalism

    Toby Riddle, 4 Modoc women and 2 settlers

    Originating in the Crimean War twenty years prior, modern war photography and journalism had become something refined by the time of the Lava Beds War. Eadweard Muybridge (born Muggeridge in England) was one of the most influential photographers in the early statehood period of California. One generation later, his interest in capturing motion on film would prove deeply influential to the rising motion picture industry. A true archetype of the Old West, Muybridge was a constant self-reinventer. Also a fabulous deceiver and liar, he later murdered his wife’s lover and got away with the crime. During the beginning of the lava beds campaign, Muybridge captured some fascinating images to be sold to magazines and newspapers. For instance, take this photo of Toby Riddle between two California militia men, with 4 old Modoc women. However, some were fabricated: Muybridge had a non-Modoc man pose at some rocks as though he were shooting at Army soldiers. “On the start for a Reconnaissance of the Lava Beds “ reads the title for one photograph.

    Journalists followed the Army around and reported on events as people around the world followed their stories with relish. Interestingly, reporters even went into Lava Beds to document and interview Modoc people.

    Divides, Assassination

    Winema, called Toby Riddle, was one of the Modoc on the other side of the conflict. Similar to the contemporaneous Sarah Winnemucca Hopkins, Toby Riddle was a US Army interpreter, and her husband Frank was a settler. During the war she mostly acted as a messenger. Although she had already borne a son she ran across the lavascape. Because she was a cousin to Keinpoos, Winema remained safe venturing into Lava Beds.

    Brigadier General E.S. Canby was in charge of the Lava Beds campaign. Meacham, described in Part II, again appears as a participant.

    The war was divisive for Modoc people. Most remained under the authority of Old Schonchin up north during the war, in turn outnumbered by the Klamath in the “democratic” government. Schonchin John had joined the Modoc encampment. Within the Lava Beds community there were strong divisions. Keintpoos wanted the war brought to a carefully-arranged end that would secure peace and the right to live in the area of Lost River with his family.  Others wanted to drive out the European-Americans.

    Months of peace negotiations unfolded. Canby grew annoyed by the interference from the Oregon governor, who was eager to hang multiple Modoc at the moment of surrender.

    In the meantime, Canby’s men seized Modoc horses while the negotiations played out. To the Modoc this was unacceptable. At a gathering, the Modoc warriors proposed assassinating Canby at the peace commission. In the northwest and basin, killing an enemy’s leader typically ended conflict. Furthermore, the Third Generation did not forget the Ben Wright Massacre and its false flag of peace in the dead of night. Keintpoos differed from those proposing the killing. Some of the group, possibly Hooker Jim among them, considered Keintpoos cowardly and unfit to be their leader. They tossed a female woven hat at the leader as shaming. By now, the warriors were mostly in favor of assassination. It would be a dangerous move.

    Winema learned of the assassination plot and warned Canby and others.  She went unheeded. Elijah Steele warned Canby by letter, too, but in response Canby wrote that his duty overrode concerns for safety.

    At their peace negotiation on Good Friday, 1873, Canby left many soldiers waiting just off from the peace tent, which was situated halfway between the Modoc and Army encampments. The mere presence of so many troops would deter any threats, was his thought. Also there were the Riddles, the Methodist minister Eleazer Thomas, and agent Alfred Meacham, L.S. Dyar, and two soldiers carrying concealed weapons. Keintpoos tried one last time to make progress. Schonchin John wanted a reservation for his band at Hot Creek.  However, the commissioners were single-minded and resolved to accept nothing less than total surrender.

    Keintpoos revealed his revolver and shot Canby dead. Slolux and Brancho pulled forth rifles and fired. Reverend Thomas also died from gunfire, and Meacham was wounded. Frank Riddle and Commissioner Dyar fled; Winema remained behind. Someone began scalping Meacham but Winema intervened and saved him by warning of the coming soldiers. Keintpoos, Black Jim, Boston Charley, and the rest escaped.


    Replacement General Jefferson C. Davis swelled the ranks to 1,000 troops. William Tecumseh Sherman, General of the Army, urged Davis to kill every Modoc man, woman and child in retaliation. Sherman instructed a colonel, “[y]ou will be fully justified in their utter extermination.”

    The first Modoc defeat happened at the Battle of Dry Lake on May 10. Despite the routing, only several Modoc died including the band leader Ellen’s Man. Recognizing that a precise time had come, Hooker Jim and his band left Lava Beds and changed allegiance.  Hooker Jim, Bogus Charley, Shacknasty Jim and Steamboat Frank and others helped end the war earlier by enabling US Army to track down Keintpoos. They and their families were allowed to return to Klamath reservation unguarded. In exchange for Captain Jack, these Modoc received amnesty for the Tule Lake killings.

    Keintpoos surrendered at the beginning of June, 1873.

    Military tribunal. Winema interpreted. Keintpoos, Schonchin John, Boston Charley, Black Jim, Slolux and Brancho were sentenced to death. In yet another ironic turn, they were convicted of war crimes, the only time American Indians would be. None had legal counsel.

    Ulysses S. Grant would later commute the sentences of Slolux and Brancho, giving them life imprisonment at Alcatraz Island, far to the southwest. The rest were hanged. Their heads were severed and shipped to Washington, D.C. Over a century later, Keintpoos’ relatives would finally retrieve custody of his head from the Smithsonian.

    Keintpoos’ wife Lizzie, his Old Wife, his daughter Rose and sister Mary were, with all the remaining Modoc from Lava Beds, boarded on cattle cars and shipped to Oklahoma on a non-stop journey. It is said that they became so starved that upon being released on a field in Oklahoma, the captives found a cow in the field, killed and ate it there on the ground. Rose died in Oklahoma, Keintpoos’ only child.

    Curley-Headed Doctor fell into disfavor. His power had failed the Modoc, so the people believed. The Modoc in Oregon converted to Methodism and those in Oklahoma were converted by the Quaker. As time passed on, Curley-Headed Doctor’s heart grew heavy.  One cold morning, he went outside to behold a gigantic flock of crows.  Their movement signified a great event, and he died soon after. He is still buried in Oklahoma. The Third Generation mostly passed by 1900.


    Winema lived the rest of her life on the Klamath Reservation with Frank and her son Jeff. Influenza claimed her in 1920.

    The last Modoc War survivor was Stimitchuas, remembered as Jennie Clinton. It’s unknown when she was born, but she was one those shipped to Oklahoma after the war, and returned to Oregon in 1918. In 1922, Jennie Clinton divorced her husband. She spent the rest of her life in a cabin on the Williamson River. She made beadwork but did not weave.

    Elvira Blow was an even older Modoc War survivor (she already had children before the war) who continued traditional basket-making into the 1930s.

    In the 20th century, Oklahoma Modoc were able to return to Oregon. About 50 remained behind at Quapaw. That is why there are two separate Modoc tribes within two different nations today: one in Oregon, one in Oklahoma.

    Jennie Clinton died in 1950, somewhere between the ages of 89 to over 100. She was the last, having survived forced migration, hunger, poverty, and bloodshed. The Fourth Generation was gone and the Fifth was mostly gone. Four years later, an act of congress would terminate the existence of the Klamath Tribes.

    Subsequent generations of Modoc history will be described in upcoming diaries.


    Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part II

    ( – promoted by navajo)


    photo credit: Aaron Huey


    Prior to contact, the Modoc people inhabited an area approximately 5,000 square miles in southern Oregon and the northeastern corner of California, where today Modoc County corresponds somewhat to traditional geography. To the southwest (moowat and Tgalam) Mt. Shasta rises up, covered in shining blue ice. Modoc people would make pilgrimages to the sacred mountain every year, but would not dwell there.  Sacred journeys were also made to Medicine Lake: a healing volcanic feature now used as a recreation park.  To the east (lobiitdal’) lies Goose Lake, and to the north (yaamat) in Klamath land is Mt. Mazama.  Today, Mazama is known as Crater Lake.

    Thousands of years ago, oral traditional states, the ancestors of the Modoc and the much more numerous Klamath people hid in caves from the catastrophic eruption of Mazama.  Beyond the terrifying images of raining ash and fire imaginable, this event affected world climate.

    In between these boundaries are Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, Lost, Williamson and Sprague Rivers, hundreds of marshes, many seasonally dry, pine forests, the lush Cascade mountains, high desert, and alkali flats most desolate in appearance.  The geography dictated the lifestyle: considered harsh by other Indian peoples, Modocs were nonetheless blessed with the bounty of wocas, a pond-lily seed, during the annual harvest season, salmon and suckerfish, as well as plentiful duck, pelican, goose and other waterfowl, many deer, moose, bear, elk, and delicious berries and roots like camas. Traditionally, they are a weaving and hunting people. Tule reed is the principle fabric source.

    This stark land was one of the last places in the 48 where European settlers, desirous for land, timber and gold, would venture. It would become the setting for the most expensive Indian war in US history.


    In Part 1, I gave an overview of Modoc life as it existed for 8,000 years from the eruption of Mt. Mazama to contact, and from there, disease, increasing tension between Modocs and European-Americans, and bloodshed, up until the Ben Wright Massacre and its crippling effect on Modoc people.

    At least 41 Modoc men, women, and children died in the Ben Wright Massacre, an assault at night on a Modoc village. Schonchin John, brother of Old Schonchin, was one of the only survivors.



  • Old Schonchin

  • John Schonchin, his brother

  • Keintpoos, or Captain Jack

  • Toby Riddle, interpreter

  • Cho’ocks, or Curley-Headed Doctor

  • Link River Doctor

  • Hooker Jim

  • Scarfaced Charley

  • Mary or Queen Mary, Keintpoos’ sister

  • Lizzie, Keintpoos’ wife
  • Old Wife (of Keintpoos)

  • Rose, Keintpoos’ infant daughter.

  • Jeff Riddle, Toby’s son.


  • Ulysses S. Grant, US president

  • Alfred B. Meacham, Oregon Superintendent for Indian Affairs

  • J.W. Perit Huntington, Oregon Superintendent for Indian Affairs
  • Elijah Steele, Indian Agent for Northern California
  • Lindsay Applegate, founder of the Applegate trail, Oregon Indian Subagent

  • O.C. Knapp, Subagent

  • Captain James Jackson, Army

  • Frank Riddle, settler, husband to Toby

  • The Second Generation’s Passing, The Rise of the Third

    After the Ben Wright Massacre, wars broke out between the US and multiple tribes across the northwest and great basin, and even more treaties were made. These treaties dealt with issues that are still politically tense today: fishing, farming, and timber, and with these, water rights. US government was to protect American Indian rights in exchange for their reservation captivity, peace and the forfeiture of much more land.

    For Modocs, the second generation since contact began to disappear, either plagued by tuberculosis, smallpox, influenza or other disease, or massacred by settlers.  Old Schonchin who had led the raid on settlers at Bloody Point and his brother John passed into elderhood.  The Modoc children alive during the Ben Wright Massacre of 1852 matured into adulthood. These included Keintpoos who would become known as Captain Jack, his wife Lizzie, and his sister Queen Mary.

    The Valentine’s Day Treaty

    Keintpoos met with Elijah Steele. Steele was Northern California’s Indian agent and a Republican Party boss, former prospector, judge and a founding settler of Siskiyou County, California.  Keintpoos and his band felt cheated by the process up north.

    In The Modocs and Their War, Keith A. Murray describes their horribly modest goals:

    [T]hey asked Judge Steele to draft a treaty for them, even thought they were no longer under his agency.  Steele knew that his jurisdiction no longer extended to the Modocs [relocated to Oregon] and Klamaths and, furthermore, that he had no authority to negotiate treaties with any Indians. Nevertheless, he felt that an informal treaty was better than none, especially when the Indians themselves asked for one. He thought he could turn over to the new superintendent a fair accompli.  By the terms of the treaty, the Modocs and others who signed it promised to stop stealing stock and to refrain from further child stealing. They agreed to quit selling their women to the miners, though marriage by purchase to other Indians was permitted.  They also agreed to cease quarreling among themselves.  They conceded the right of soldiers to punish them if they broke the agreement.  In return, they were given permission to trade, to acts as guides, and to operate ferries for a fee.  They also agreed to get permission from the soldiers at Fort Klamath whenever they wished to leave a reservation that would be set up for them.  Steele promised, bound only by his own word, to try to get a reservation for Jack’s band just west of Tule Lake along the Lost River.

    This reservation would have cost $20,000 and appeased Keintpoos, a much smaller sum than the over $1,000,000 Modoc War that would follow.

    The Klamath Tribes Treaty of 1864

    There was another treaty, one that became binding. This October treaty, signed in Oregon, required the Modoc and Yahooskin tribes (a band of the Snake Indians) to enter a reservation on Klamath land.  You can see a text of the treaty here, along with the names of the signers.  Modoc participants included Old Schonchin and Keintpoos, recognized by treaty as chiefs of the Modoc people, with Schonchin recognized as the superior.  Although the Modoc spoke a dialect of Klamath, intermarried, and traded with Klamath people, their relationship was not friendly. The Klamath saw the Modoc people as a country people, coarse in their speech and hardscrabble in their existence.

    ARTICLE 9. The several tribes of Indians, parties to this treaty, acknowledge their dependence upon the Government of the United States, and agree to be friendly with all citizens thereof, and to commit no depredations upon the person or property of said citizens, and to refrain from carrying on any war upon other Indian tribes; and they further agree that they will not communicate with or assist any persons or nation hostile to the United States, and, further, that they will submit to and obey all laws and regulations which the United States may prescribe for their government and conduct.

    ARTICLE 10. It is hereby provided that if any member of these tribes shall drink any spirituous liquor, or bring any such liquor upon the reservation, his or her proportion of the benefits of this treaty may be withheld for such time as the President of the United States may direct — from the 1864 treaty.

    In 1865, Keitpoos led his band (there had been 4 villages on the Lost River before the Ben Wright Massacre) back to his ancestral home on the Lost River after the government did not recognize him as chief. He had grown disgusted with the US favoritism towards Old Schonchin. With dozens of men, women and children with him, Keintpoos spent 4 years coming and going through the Klamath basin. Because the 1864 treaty was not ratified by the US senate and therefore not in effect, Applegate could not coerce Keintpoos to leave his homeland.

    In 1869, Keintpoos met with Oregon’s superintendent for Indian Affairs, Alfred B. Meacham. Keintpoos, who was by now known as Captain Jack, (allegedly a man in Yreka found Keintpoos similar in appearance to an old mariner) fled with all warriors at the sudden and unexpected appearance of US soldiers. Meacham ordered the women and children (who had been left behind) to be boarded on wagons bound for the reservation.  Meacham entreated Queen Mary, the sister of Captain Jack, to go persuade the man and his band into heading back north. Captain Jack relented. The Modoc were all together again on the reservation.

    Reservation Woes

    What is cultural genocide?

    Article 7 of a 1994 draft of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples uses the phrase “cultural genocide” but does not define what it means.[4] The complete article reads as follows:

    Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for:

    (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;

    (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;

    (c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;

    (d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures;

    (e) Any form of propaganda directed against them.

    To what degree do these apply to the Third Generation’s pre-war story?

    The misfortunate of the Modoc was to be outnumbered by the Klamath, who could then control the distribution of promised goods delivered by the US. Because the reservation was so small, the Indian peoples had no choice but to depend on the deliveries of food, clothing and other supplies. Nor were the deliveries generous in size. Hunger and poverty began with the third generation.

    Because she was married to the settler Frank Riddle, Toby Riddle was free to come and go as she pleased, with her young son Jeff.  Since her English was among the best spoken by Modoc she found employment as an interpreter.

    Keintpoos, with his wife Lizzie, daughter Rose, his “Old Wife,” Cho’ocks, Hooker Jim, Scarfaced Charley and other Modoc all sojourned south from the reservation to the Lost River over the next several years. On the Klamath tribes reservation deep misery overtook the people. Those who stayed behind began a lifestyle of cattle ranching (growing crops failed) and forestry as instructed by the agents.

    Although Meacham had won acclaim for removing Indians from Iowa to the Pacific, his personal beliefs were not totally unsympathetic to the treatment of First Americans.  In fact, he was distressed:

    • one agent had told Meacham that the best solution for the Indian problem was to “wash out the color”; many Indian agents were impregnating Indian women
    • at Fort Klamath, Modoc women could not pay for the goods they wanted, and so engaged in prostitution
    • officers took Indian women from their husbands
    • Indian husbands would not take back wives who had been seized by whites
    • many male settlers moved onto reservations and lived in a casual state with women

    Meacham issued an ultimatum to settlers on the Klamath reservation: marry, or leave.

    Despite the Modoc abandoning their ancestral home for the exponentially increasing Applegate Trail settlers, treaty promises remained unfulfilled. One of the stipulations was the establishment of a saw mill, because the newly created Klamath tribes was to support itself through the harvesting of timber. No saw mill, as promised by the Applegates, had been built.

    As a good Methodist, Meacham stood fiercely opposed to the Modoc religion and its spiritual leaders. The new tribal elections system deliberately bolstered trustworthy, if not puppet, rulers, and reduced the political power of the traditional spiritual leaders. Methodist missionaries have been the primary religious establishment among the Klamath Tribes ever since.

    Many Modoc, including Keintpoos and Cho’ocks, felt great unease at these and more developments.  Across the west, Indians resisted the missionary influence of the Meachams and began to adopt a racial view of themselves.  This was facilitated especially by the Ghost Dance, a radical, pan-Indian spiritual movement that arose during the first reservation era. The goal of the Ghost Dance was to raise the dead, who had been taken by murder, mayhem and disease, and together expel the European-American settlers. Understanding its unifying potential, the US suppressed the Ghost Dance movement with force.  For the Modoc, Curley-Headed Doctor, or Cho’ocks, was now the main spiritual leader. He acquired knowledge of the Ghost Dance from the Paiute. Meanwhile, Link River Doctor faced arrest, trial and imprisonment in 1870 at the hands of Subagent Knapp, with Meacham’s encouragement, for the practice of Modoc religion.

    Modoc people raided settlers for food. Complaints deluged Meacham’s office.

    Meacham was both retained as an agent in the region and would prove a critical actor in later events. However, J.W. Perit Huntington replaced Meacham as Oregon Superintendent. Ulysses S. Grant was president, then, and this reshuffling was in keeping with politics at the time, including the “spoils system.”

    With a growing crisis in the region, Meacham requested a separated reservation for Keintpoos’ band down at the Yainax station in the southern part of the Klamath Tribes reservation.  Like the previous attempts by various actors, this too was ignored.

    It was 1872, and in one of a multitude of ironies, Captain Jack was to be arrested for the murder of a ‘shaman.’ Traditionally, the tribe would take the life of a healer who failed to cure the sick. Not only did Keintpoos exercise a tribal duty, (not the first time he would end up vilified for fulfilling tribal obligations) he had eliminated a person whom the government itself criminalized. Notwithstanding, a warrant was issued for Captain Jack’s arrest.

    The Battle of Lost River

    Cpt. James Jackson, on orders from Ft. Klamath, marched with 40 troops to Captain Jack’s camp to force a return to the reservation. They were joined by a citizen’s militia from Linkville, (now Klamath Falls) the main European-American settlement in the basin.  At the camp on November 29th, the Modoc were ordered to disarm. After doing so a fight broke out and firing commenced.

    Quickly, the Modoc reclaimed their weapons and fled to California. They took shelter at Lava Beds, a complex series of lava tubes near Tule Lake.

    Between November 29th and 30th, Hooker Jim led a band of Modoc on a series of raids that slaughtered 18 settlers around the lake.

    This was the beginning of the 1872-1873 Modoc War.

    Centuries of Genocide is a generational series on the destruction of First Americans, or American Indian peoples. I began this series with Part I of the Modoc story. Subsequent generations will be described in the upcoming entries.


    Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part I

    ( – promoted by navajo)


    photo credit: Aaron Huey

    Prior to contact, the Modoc people inhabited an area approximately 5,000 square miles in southern Oregon and the northeastern corner of California, where today Modoc County corresponds somewhat to traditional geography. To the southwest (moowat and Tgalam) Mt. Shasta rises up, covered in shining blue ice. Modoc people would make pilgrimages to the sacred mountain every year, but would not live on it.  Sacred journeys were also made to Medicine Lake, a healing volcanic feature now used as a recreation park.  To the east (lobiitdal’) lies Goose Lake, and to the north (yaamat) in Klamath land is Mt. Mazama.  Today, Mazama is known as Crater Lake.

    Thousands of years ago, oral traditional states, the Modoc and the much larger Klamath peoples’ ancestors hid in caves from the catastrophic eruption of Mazama.  Beyond the terrifying images of raining ash and fire imaginable, this event affected world climate.

    In between these boundaries are Klamath Lake, hundreds of marshes, many seasonally dry, pine forests, the lush Cascade mountains, high desert, and alkali flats most desolate in appearance.  The geography dictated the lifestyle: considered harsh by other Indian peoples, Modocs were nonetheless blessed with the bounty of wocas, a pond-lily seed, during the annual harvest season, salmon and suckerfish, as well as plentiful duck, pelican, goose and other waterfowl, many deer, moose, bear, elk, and delicious berries and roots like camas. Traditionally, they are a weaving and hunting people. Tule reed is the principle fabric source.

    This stark land was one of the last places in the 48 where European settlers, desirous for land, timber and gold, would venture. It would become the setting for the most expensive Indian war in US history.


    In the 1820s, Peter Skene Ogden, born in Quebec, became the first European trader (working for Hudson’s Bay Company) to venture into the Klamath basin.  Although the Hudson’s Bay Company operated great fur-trading in the Northwest, specifically at Ft. Vancouver, (it lay across the Columbia river from what is now Portland) and Astoria, the Klamath basin promised little. The region’s lack of pelts, and the inhospitable lands to the east, made venturing into the basin unattractive to the first wave of outsiders. In addition to being much drier than the Willamette Valley naturally, the growing season is very short with very snowy winters.

    Lindsay Applegate, a British-American from Kentucky, who had fought in the Black Hawk War of the 1830s, established an alternative trail to Oregon passing through the great basin in 1846.  Previously unknown diseases, including smallpox and tuberculosis, began taking a nearly apocalyptic toll on Oregon and California natives.

    The Modoc people felt both curious and offended at the sudden influx of people and cattle passing through their homeland.  Seeing these large animals on their land, some Modoc people killed cows. The bad blood was nearly instant between Modocs and some settlers.

    The first generation of Modocs to contact the European intruders adopted guns, and western shoes, skirts, trousers and blouses and tools. Their cultural flexibility and openness to change would become a running theme across each generation until the present.  As Modoc people interacted with Europeans, many assumed European names.

    But the offense grew quickly. Within one year of the Applegate Trail’s opening, the presence of so many settlers and cattle passing through their land alarmed and angered the Modoc. By the shores of Tule Lake, now known as Bloody Point, Old Schonchin and some warriors raided an emigrant party. Only three settlers survived the attack; two of them women, who were taken into the tribe; one man ventured the long distances over the Cascade Mountains to Yreka, California.  (Yreka is a town that prospered for three reasons: timber, mining and Indian blood: more on this later.)  Jim Crosby there raised a militia that buried the dead and fought in a skirmish against Modoc people.

    The Ben Wright Massacre and the Death of Hope for Peace

    In 1852, Indian hunter Ben Wright appeared in Northern California. We know that Wright wanted to keep the Emigrant Trail safe for settlers passing into Modoc land, and that secondly, he was anxious to retrieve the two white women still living with the Modoc.  (Fear of the defiling of European-American women at the hands of the Indian is a persistent theme in the American story.)

    Jeff Riddle, the son of Modoc woman Toby Riddle and the settler Frank Riddle, claims that Wright set out to murder as many Modoc as possible. Wright’s inherent animosity is not in dispute.

    By this point, several massacres of Modoc had been already committed.

    Wright and 36 men waited at the Lost River village, one of the more populated areas in Modoc country, for the retrieval of the captive women. With the growing presence of the Modocs encamped there, the militia became gripped by morbid fantasies while waiting for the women to arrive.  Jeff Riddle claimed that Wright planned for the events to follow, telling the volunteers that their lives were in danger from the villagers.

    There is ambiguity over the details of everything that happened, but the Ben Wright Massacre followed.

    During what was supposed to be a meeting to broker peace, which the Modoc were eager to achieve, Wright laced the banquet food with strychnine. However, the intended felt suspicion and refused to eat the food.  Wright’s men began firing pistols at the villagers. The Modoc with their bows retreated into the sage brush.

    In Chapter 9 of Reminiscences of a Pioneer, Colonel William Thompson, himself biased against the Indian, describes the massacre:

    It was now no longer a battle. The savages were searched out from among the sage brush and shot like rabbits. Long poles were taken from the wickiups and those taking refuge in the river were poked out and shot as they struggled in the water. To avoid the bullets the Indians would dive and swim beneath the water, but watching the bubbles rise as they swam, the men shot them when they came up for air.

    Wright’s company killed at least 43, possibly up to 80 Modoc people, and cleared the village from the face of the earth.

    One year later, Wright successfully demanded payment from the California legislature for his actions.

    Forever Broken, Omens of Destruction

    How great was this toll on the Modoc people? Riddle claimed that ever-after, the Modoc were forever broken, indicating an event devastating on the small population, and that the later Modoc War of 1872-1873 (Toby and Frank Riddle had a critical role in the events of the final war) was never the original intention of an already butchered and weary people.  In 1928, ethnologist Mooney estimated a pre-contact population 480 people.  Assuming the effect of disease, bloodshed and the very limited potential for population growth in the region kept the population at least flat, (if not much less) about 8-10% of the people died that day; much more if the higher number of casualties is to be believed.  The famous anthropologist Alfred Kroeber assumed twice as many living Modoc before contact; if in that somewhat improbable ballpark in 1852, about 5% of the population died in the Ben Wright Massacre. Population would continue to decline from disease, fueled by hunger and exposure but also more bloodshed. The 1910 Census recorded less than 300 Modoc, over 50 of whom lived in Oklahoma on the Quapaw Reservation (more on this later).

    That is a dramatic population decline within one century.

    Considering the specialized economies of American Indian peoples, where individual agents assumed responsibility for memorizing oral history, genealogy, custom, ethnobotany and medicine, language, spirituality, mysticism and religion, agriculture, tracking and food production skills, the sudden loss of so many people in one event undeniably produced a great cultural loss in addition to the deaths themselves.

    That the massacre happened in the context of a supposed peace deal provides an essential understanding of the much more widely known, somewhat fetishized and poorly interpreted assassination of General Canby (of whom Canby, Oregon is named after) during the US Army war against Modoc.  The Modoc War was fought by the children of the 1850s generation.

    The following generations of Modoc history will be described in subsequent diaries — Nulwee.


    “It’s still legal in Oklahoma to kill an Indian”

    Foster Child’s Autopsy Results Released(You Tube)

    Naomi Whitecrow, a 2-year-old member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes “died of blunt-force injury to the head, abdomen and extremities.”

    Oklahoma woman sentenced in child abuse case

    An Indiana pathologist ruled the child died of blunt-force injury to the head, abdomen and extremities. A Texas expert testified neurological problems such as a seizure could have led to her death.

    Amy Holder, who was her foster mother, only has to pay a fine. No jail time.

    Oklahoma woman sentenced in child abuse case

    Jurors had recommended no prison time and that she pay a $5,000 fine. The district attorney had hoped for a stiffer punishment.

    “It’s still legal in Oklahoma to kill an Indian.”

    Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes pushes for prison over child’s death

    Despite being found guilty of child abuse, the jury recommended a $5,000 fine for Holder. Tribal members say she deserves 25 to 35 years in prison.

    The Dominant Culture speaks again.

    Naomi had trouble walking, would fall 20 to 30 times a day, repeatedly tried to gobble food whole and would grab stuff from the trash and attempt to eat it, Holder told investigators.

    No matter how bad things get. No matter if it’s rape; no matter if it’s extreme poverty; no matter if it’s stealing; no matter if it’s murder or what it is – the dominant culture will find any frivolous reason to deny true justice if it involves American Indians. May Naomi rest in peace.

    Salish Kootenai College

    SKC Sign

    The Navajo Community College was established in Tsaile, Arizona in 1969.  This college was an outgrowth of the idea of self-determination in which the tribes were to control their own destinies. In addition, it was evident that traditional colleges and universities were not meeting the needs of rural communities, and particularly Indian communities. Navajo Community College was intended to meet the needs of the Navajo people, and it became the role model for other tribal colleges. Tribal colleges became a way of training and educating tribal members at home as well as a way of retaining their tribal heritage.  

    The success of Navajo Community College led to the passage of the Tribally Controlled Community College Assistance Act in 1978. Unlike other community colleges, the tribal colleges do not have a property tax base which can be used as funding.

    In 1977, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation established what was to become Salish Kootenai College in Pablo, Montana. Initially, the college operated as a branch campus of Flathead Valley Community College. In 1981, the college formally broke its ties with FVCC and became Salish Kootenai College (SKC).

    SKC is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It currently offers the Bachelor of Arts Degree (B.A.) in three areas; the Bachelor of Science Degree (B.S.) in ten areas; the Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.) in five areas; the Associate of Science Degree (A.S.) in seven areas; the Associate Applied Science Degree (A.A.S.) in three areas; and a Certificate of Completion (C.C.) in five areas.

    As a tribal college, SKC not only teaches courses in Native American Studies, but also offers the A.A. and C.C. in Native American Studies. SKC describes its Native American Studies department this way:

    The Native American Studies Program is committed to studying the historic experience, the contributions, and the contemporary life of the Native Peoples of North America. The principles and values of the People of the Flathead Nation are as vital in modern life as they have been through the millennia. Students will discover an often unreported history while learning about a worldview that contrasts greatly with our modern technocratic, capitalistic society. The curriculum examines the history, language, art, and traditions of the Salish, Kootenai, and Pend d Orielle peoples. Course work also includes North American Indian history, federal policy, and the contemporary issues that shape the lives of Indians in today’s world.

    SKC has adopted the following goals:

    To assist with the preservation of the cultures, languages, histories, and natural environment of the Salish, Pend d`Oreille, and Kootenai people

    To provide postsecondary education opportunities for Native Americans in the following areas: degree programs, vocational training, college transfer programs, community service, Native American culture and history, and adult education.

    To provide a learning environment in which students develop skills in effective communication, critical thinking, cultural understanding, and citizenship.

    To provide comprehensive student services.

    To provide life-long, continuing education opportunities for both personal and professional development through a variety of instructional formats offered on and off campus.

    To provide assistance to tribal entities and departments in staff preparation, planning, research and services according to identified needs.

    To assist the Indian community with economic development needs of the Flathead Indian Nation.

    To provide adequate institutional support and financial resources.

    Shown below are some recent photographs of the SCK campus.

    SKC Campus

    SKC Kenmile

    SKC Art 1

    SKC Art 2

    SKC Art 3

    The Navajo, Sheep, and the Federal Government

    During the 1930s, the conservation policies of the federal government collided with Navajo culture. What the Navajo perceived as the callous disregard of the government for sheep and goats-both important in Navajo culture-resulted in resentments toward the American government which are still present today.  

    Domesticated sheep and goats were not native to the American southwest, but were initially brought into the region by the Spanish colonists who introduced them to the Pueblo and Athabascan-speaking Indians. The adoption of sheep by the Athabascans had a profound impact on one group in northwestern New Mexico who became known as “Apaches de Nabaju” or the Navajo. The addition of sheep husbandry to their farming and raiding economy led to the early divergence of Navajo culture from southern Apache culture.

    The first sheep which were adopted by the Navajo were the Churro breed which is an Andalusian stock. The Churro provide a long, smooth, and relatively greaseless wool which was easily hand-spun. Over time, other breeds were introduced to the area and interbred with the Churro. Today there are relatively few purebred Churro sheep among the Navajo, although there is a movement to increase the number of Churro sheep because of the demand for its wool by Navajo weavers.

    Navajo Sheep and Weaver

    Sheep quickly became an important part of Navajo culture. Sheep were not simply an impersonal herd on the hoof: for the Navajo, each animal had its own personality and characteristics. In addition, the wealth of a clan was counted by the size of its flock of sheep.

    During the early years of the Navajo reservation, goats were more important than sheep with regard to subsistence value, as they supplied milk and cheese as well as meat. However, sheep were important to the trading economy as they provided the raw material (wool) for trade items (blankets, rugs). Wool was also used to make clothing.

    Navajo Map

    Shown above is a map of the Navajo Reservation.

    In 1934, federal bureaucrats determined that Navajo Nation land was being overgrazed and ordered that the Navajo herds be reduced. As a part of the stock reduction program on the Navajo Reservation, 148,000 goats and 50,000 sheep were sold. Not all of the goats could be delivered to the railhead, therefore some were slaughtered and the dried meat given back to the Navajo. Other goats were simply shot and left to rot while some were shot and partially cremated by soaking them with gasoline and lighting it. In some instances, federal agents went out to the herds and often shot the animals before the eyes of astonished, grieving families. For the Navajo, this uncaring attitude toward a valuable resource seemed almost incomprehensible. The women, who were the owners of the herds, intensely criticized and condemned the government program.  

    In carrying out the government’s stock reduction programs, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) failed to understand Navajo concepts of stock ownership. The BIA was accustomed to assuming that the flocks are family owned, that is, they were owned by the male head of household. Since Navajo women owned large herds this meant that women soon found that their flocks were being credited to their husbands.

    Non-Navajo conservationists advocated the reduction in goats because the animals had little market value. They did not understand that in a subsistence economy, such as that of the Navajo, goats were important as a dependable source of food. Navajo families could drink goat’s milk and eat goat cheese and meat while reserving their sheep to breed or barter at the local trading post.

    Concerned about the damage caused by over-grazing on the Hopi and Navajo reservations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs conducted a survey in 1935 which showed that the land could support about 560,000 sheep units. Navajo flocks at this time were in excess of 1 million sheep units.

    In 1936, Navajo women rebelled against BIA pressure to reduce the size of their sheep herds. At Kayenta, 250 Navajo gathered. While most of those present were men, Denehotso Hattie, a woman almost blind from trachoma, was the leader. She pointed her finger at the new Indian superintendent for the reservation and denounced the government plan for range management.

    In general the BIA, tended to ignore long-established cultural patterns regarding livestock management and they often disparaged local knowledge and cultural understandings of the environment. With regard to implementing the livestock reduction program, they refused to solicit or listen to Navajo advice. Finally, BIA officials tended to be sexist in that they disregarded the role of women in Navajo society.

    The Bureau of Indian Affairs established land management and grazing districts on the Hopi and Navajo reservations in 1937. Both Navajo and Hopi sheep herds were to be reduced by 10%. For people who measured their wealth in the size of their flocks, the idea of reducing them seemed to be cruel and bizarre.

    In order to obtain the appearance of Navajo support for livestock reduction, the Agency Superintendent brought together about 70 specially selected Navajo leaders and then encouraged-some would say, coerced-them into voting themselves as the new Navajo Tribal Council. The strategy of the Bureau of Indian Affairs was to create a new governing body which would enact and enforce legislation to require the Navajo people to conform to grazing regulations. The new council had 70 members with each member representing a new voting district. In opposition to the Council, J.C. Morgan organized the Navajo Progressive League which vowed to form a representative council.

    Following the formation of the new tribal council, the Navajo Tribal Council drafted a set of grazing regulations designed to meet Navajo needs. These were then submitted to the Secretary of the Interior for review and approval.

    While the number of Navajo sheep and goats decreased during the 1940s, the conflicts between traditional livestock methods and those imposed on them by the bureaucracy have remained.  

    Choctaw Education After Removal

    By 1840, some 40,000 Indians from the Five Civilized Tribes-Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole-had been resettled in what is now Oklahoma as a part of the efforts of the American government to remove all Indians from American territory east of the Mississippi. Each of the Five Civilized Tribes was organized into self-governing republics and was attempting to re-establish themselves in this new territory.

    Under the terms of the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, the United States had promised the Choctaw that it would construct schools for their children and pay for the teachers. In addition, the United States was to provide 20 scholarships per year for 20 years for Choctaw students to go to college.  

    In 1831, the Choctaw removal began and they began to establish a new government and a new way of life west of the Mississippi River. By 1832, an estimated 6,000 Choctaw had settled in Oklahoma. In 1833, the Choctaw established a tribal school system and built 12 log schoolhouses.

    Manual labor schools were established for Indians in Oklahoma by the United States government in 1834. The first of these was among the Choctaw. The school was run by a Baptist minister and was designed to teach letters, labor, mechanical arts, morals, and Christianity. The United States government felt that it had an obligation to force conversion to Christianity upon the Indians as a way of paying them for the land which the government had taken from them. Conversion to Christianity was seen as a required step in the process of becoming “civilized.”

    By 1837, there were at least 15,000 Choctaw who had been removed to Oklahoma. By 1838, the teachers in the Choctaw’s 12 neighborhood schools were being paid from their treaty funds. The students were being supported by their parents.

    In 1842, the Choctaw decided to re-establish their school system in Oklahoma. They decided to sever their ties with the Choctaw Academy in Kentucky and to establish six boarding schools: Spencer Academy, Fort Coffee Academy, Koonaha (Kunaha or Sunsha) Female Seminary, Ianubbee (Ayanubbe) Female Seminary, Chuwahla (Chuwalla) Female Seminary, and Wheelock Female Seminary.

    The Choctaw Academy had been established near Lexington, Kentucky in 1826. While the school was partially funded by Choctaw annuities, the majority of its students were not Choctaw, but included Creek, Seminole, Shawnee, Potawatomi, Pawnee, and others. Upon arriving at the school, the students were given English names, usually the name of prominent political and government officials. The curriculum included both liberal arts and vocational education, together with preaching intended to convert the young students to Christianity. The religious objectives of the school were endorsed by the government. The Indian students at the Choctaw Academy were also considered to be hostages who would help prevent war between their tribes and the United States.

    The Choctaw boarding schools intended to teach Choctaw boys agriculture and mechanical arts. Choctaw girls were to learn how to sew and make clothing and to do household chores. Additional subjects taught by the schools included business skills and reading, writing, and spelling in the English language. Arithmetic, music, and geography were also taught, and in some schools pupils learned algebra, geometry, U.S. history, chemistry, philosophy, botany, astronomy, painting, drawing, and Latin grammar. Students were generally ten to sixteen years of age

    The Wheelock Mission was chosen as the site for the female boarding school. In 1843, the Wheelock Female Seminary on the Choctaw Nation formally opened. While missionaries generally found the Choctaws’ native tongue to be the most effective language of instruction, the Choctaw Council, under the influence of the mixed-bloods, insisted that English be used exclusively in the boarding schools. Since English was a foreign language to most of the students this acted as a barrier to their progress. Students were forbidden to speak Choctaw not only in the classroom, but in addition the girls were forbidden to use it when conversing with each other.

    With regard to instruction, five hours each day were dedicated to the classroom and four hours to domestic skills. Each of the girls was also assigned to household chores. In order to help defray the costs of operating the schools, the students helped operate the school. Academically, this was justified as a way of teaching them practical hands-on-experience in how to manage a dairy, feed a family, and care for a home. While they learned the skills necessary to run a non-Indian household, they were being purged of many traditional customs.

    The school was viewed as an important instrument for spreading Christianity among the Choctaw. In nineteenth century terminology, a “seminary” was not a school dedicated solely to religious instruction, but one which offered a four-year high school curriculum.  

    In 1844, the Choctaw finished construction of the Spencer Academy. The boarding school was intended to accommodate 100 boys. The school was named for John Spencer who served as Secretary of War from 1841-1843. Spencer donated a 250-pound bell to the school.

    The Civil War interrupted the Choctaw school system and all of their schools were closed. After the war some of the boarding schools were re-opened. The New Hope Seminary and Spencer Academy were revived in 1871. In 1884 the Armstrong Academy was reopened as a school for orphan boys aged six to twelve, and the Wheelock Academy was reestablished as a school for orphan girls of the same age.

    In 1898, the Curtis Act, intended to break up all of the Indian nations in Oklahoma, put the Choctaw schools under federal control. Slowly the federal government closed the Choctaw schools. By 1930 only two schools remained: the Jones Academy and the Wheelock Seminary. The Wheelock Seminary was merged with the Jones Academy in 1955. The Jones Academy is presently maintained under the direction of the Choctaw Nation as a residential care center for elementary and secondary age children.

    Thanksgiving: National Day Of Mourning

    I mourn the loss of my specific tribal heritage due to my biological family being assimilated into Christianity, the shame that religion put into them, which caused them to lose their tribal heritage – thus mine.

    The Massacre For Which Thanksgiving Is Named (Pt.2)


    photo credit: Aaron Huey

    I mourn the loss of Native Languages, the loss of cultures and ceremonies, and the incomprehensible loss of lives due to arrival of the disease called  Christopher Columbus.

    I mourn the loss of Matriarchal Societies due to the sexist, male dominated invaders.

    Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. “Where Are Your Women?: Missing In Action,” by Barbara Alice Mann. p. 121, 122, 124.

    …in the often fractious discussions of the extent of Native American contributions to modern Euro – American culture, the glaring omission of women continues almost utterly unaddressed…Worse, from the European perspective, was the level of political clout wielded by woodlands women. The sixteenth – century Spaniards in La Florida (the whole American southwest) were nonplussed by matrilineage and the cacicas (female chiefs) with whom they were forced to deal…Spanish frustration was not a little focused on Guale females, who undermined patriarchal tampering with Guale culture…In 1724, the Jesuit missionary Joseph Francois Lafitau recorded in astonishment that Haudenosaunee women were “the souls of the councils…” Judicial affairs so entirely belonged to women that any woodlands man who wished to become a jurist or a negotiator had first to have been “made a woman” in order to be qualified for the job…

    I mourn the incomprehensible loss of lives due to the smallpox infected blankets.

    I mourn the incomprehensible loss of lives due to each tribe’s

    Trail Of Tears. I grieve the incomprehensible loss of life and culture that made this world a better place: those tribes who tried surviving by moving peacefully during forced removal, and those who tried surviving by fighting.

    Address to the Cherokee Nation


    “Cherokees! The President of the United States has sent me with a powerful army, to cause you, in obedience to the treaty of 1835 [the Treaty of New Echota], to join that part of your people who have already established in prosperity on the other side of the Mississippi. Unhappily, the two years which were allowed for the purpose, you have suffered to pass away without following, and without making any preparation to follow; and now, or by the time that this solemn address shall reach your distant settlements, the emigration must be commenced in haste, but I hope without disorder.

    I mourn the incomprehensible loss of life from the Washita Massacre, the Sand Creek Massacre, and the Massacre at Wounded Knee.

    America’s Third World: Pine Ridge, South Dakota

    Unemployment at 80%. Fifteen people per home. Life expectancy rates of 50 years. The third world? Not hardly. Try South Dakota.

    I mourn the incomprehensible  loss of language and culture from the Indian Boarding Schools.

    I mourn the loss of Indian Territory, which became Oklahoma; since, there would have been many more indigenous languages thriving and American Indian children would be educated about their culture and history. Also, I mourn the continuation of

    Land Run Re Enactments.

    I mourn the loss of the generations that were lost, due to the genocide from the Forced Sterilizations of Indigenous Women.

    I mourn the loss of the buffalo, which have been intentionally  slaughtered in Montana.

    I mourn the suffering that my relatives the Navajo had to endure, being forcefully removed from Big Mountain.


    This is the first time the U.S. is being formally investigated by the United Nations for violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief.

    I mourn the loss of our youth, who have committed  suicide to the point of it having been a state of emergency.

    And, I mourn being in a culture that overall is still racist, using the dehumanizing term  Redskins.

    Around the Campfire: Indian Hate Groups

    Rudy Ryser says the total Indian hate group list now has more than 50 organizations on it. They claim to have 500,000 members, but Ryser puts their active membership at 10,850. The number of people who give money or write support letters he puts at 34,150, which is a potential force. They are still trying to eliminate reservations, outlaw tribal governments, and declare an end to the “Indian problem.”

    These hate groups will be the next wave of people who will try to terminate all Indian treaties. It has happened before, and it will happen again.

    I mourn what would have been, had the predators never came.

    Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

    THE SUPPRESSED SPEECH OF WAMSUTTA (FRANK B.) JAMES, WAMPANOAG To have been delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1970

    …Even before the Pilgrims landed it was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them as slaves for 220 shillings apiece. The Pilgrims had hardly explored the shores of Cape Cod for four days before they had robbed the graves of my ancestors and stolen their corn and beans.

    Mourt’s Relation describes a searching party of sixteen men. Mourt goes on to say that this party took as much of the Indians’ winter provisions as they were able to carry.

    Massasoit, the great Sachem of the Wampanoag, knew these facts, yet he and his People welcomed and befriended the settlers of the Plymouth Plantation. Perhaps he did this because his Tribe had been depleted by an epidemic. Or his knowledge of the harsh oncoming winter was the reason for his peaceful acceptance of these acts. This action by Massasoit was perhaps our biggest mistake. We, the Wampanoag, welcomed you, the white man, with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end; that before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a free people.

    What happened in those short 50 years? What has happened in the last 300 years? History gives us facts and there were atrocities; there were broken promises – and most of these centered around land ownership. Among ourselves we understood that there were boundaries, but never before had we had to deal with fences and stone walls. But the white man had a need to prove his worth by the amount of land that he owned. Only ten years later, when the Puritans came, they treated the Wampanoag with even less kindness in converting the souls of the so-called “savages.” Although the Puritans were harsh to members of their own society, the Indian was pressed between stone slabs and hanged as quickly as any other “witch…”

    “Look At Us” – John Trudell (Video)

    “Look At Us” – John Trudell

    We do not mean you and your christian children any bad, but you all came to take all we had we have not seen you but we have heard so much it is time for you to decide what life is worth we already remember but maybe you forgot.

    Look at us, look at us, we are of Earth and Water

    Look at them, it is the same

    Look at us, we are suffering all these years

    Look at them, they are connected.

    Look at us, we are in pain

    Look at them, surprised at our anger

    Look at us, we are struggling to survive

    Look at them, expecting sorrow be benign

    Look at us, we were the ones called pagan

    Look at them, on their arrival

    Look at us, we are called subversive

    Look at them, descending from name callers

    Look at us, we wept sadly in the long dark

    Look at them, hiding in tech no logic light

    Look at us, we buried the generations

    Look at them, inventing the body count

    Look at us, we are older than America

    Look at them, chasing a fountain of youth

    Look at us, we are embracing Earth

    Look at them, clutching today

    Look at us, we are living in the generations

    Look at them, existing in jobs and debts

    Look at us, we have escaped many times

    Look at them, they cannot remember

    Look at us, we are healing

    Look at them, their medicine is patented

    Look at us, we are trying

    Look at them, what are they doing

    Look at us, we are children of Earth

    Look at them, who are they?

    Unlearning the Language of Conquest Scholars Expose Anti-Indianism in America. p. 219

    As difficult as it may be for non – Indians to realize the corruption of American Institutions, such as universities, or to recognize the hypnotic effect of propaganda and hegemony, it may be far more difficult for them to mitigate the shadow side of their own cultural histories. In this chapter a non – Indian (David Gabbard) scholar stresses how vital it is to do so nonetheless, for until a true realization occurs, the United States of America will likely continue its similar intrusions of colonialism in other parts of the world and on other people. He points out that for this realization to take place, we must recognize First Nations scholarship as a set of practices aimed at helping everyone remember themselves and that efforts to discredit that scholarship and the worldviews that it attempts to recover can keep us in a cycle of genocide that will ultimately consume us.

    Welcome to the Rez (Photo Diary)

    Flathead Sign

    “Rez” is a slang term for “reservation.” When the media focuses its attention on a reservation, there is a tendency to shore pictures of abject, grinding poverty. Yet there is another view of the reservation, a view of physical and spiritual beauty. Join me on a fast photo tour of one reservation-the Flathead Indian Reservation, home of the Bitterroot Salish, the Pend d’Oreille, and the Kootenai tribes. These photos are not intended to provide a comprehensive view of the reservation, but were taken on a single day.

    Tribal Logo

    Evaro 2

    Evaro 1

    Bridge 1

    Bridge 2

    Mission Mtns 1

    St. Ig Sign

    St. Ig 2

    St. Ig Church

    Ninepipes 1

    Ninepipes 2

    Museum 1

    Museum 2

    Bison Range 2

    Bison Range 5

    Bison Range 6

    Bison Range 7

    Charlo 1

    Charlo 2


    Pablo 1

    Flathead Lake 1

    Flathead Lake 2


    Origins Of The Native American Flute

    The clear origins of the Native American Flute date back several thousand millennia to flutes made of bone, to petroglyphs, and oral history. Unclear “origins” involve the Spanish Conquest insofar as the Spanish stealing the bamboo flute from Asia, and then introducing it to the Five Civilized Tribes. A Cheyenne Flute Maker relayed this to me. The idea goes, that the bamboo flute was made out of river cane by the Five Civilized Tribes after the Spanish “brought” the bamboo flute to the “New World.” Subsequently, river cane flutes then proceeded to be constructed out of cedar wood by the Plains Tribes; hence, its origins within this idea being called Asian – Spanish. However, the Cheyenne Flute Maker said that the tribes already possessed the flute prior to the invasion, and the Spanish may have introduced it to a few. That raises some questions, but the ultimate answer we shall see is one of mystery.


    photo credit: Aaron Huey

    What family of trees were flutes being constructed out of then?  What are some woods that they are being made out of now? After answering those questions along with some general knowledge in that area, we will proceed to the clear and unclear origins of the flute. The only clear thing is that it’s a mystery who specifically invented the first flutes world wide as old as approximately 82,000 years ago.

    The juniper family of trees, including cedar, was used to make the earliest flutes. To illustrate, flutes were possibly constructed out of the Arizona cypress, the Utah juniper, or the Rocky Mountain juniper, but definitely out of the eastern red cedar. The length of the branch used was crucial in determining the overall pitch desired in the flute being made. To be more specific, the distance between the holes on the flute determined the musical scale that the flute would play, which was a process of trial and error to achieve the desired order of notes. Generally speaking, longer and larger flutes were lower in pitch, while shorter and smaller flutes were higher in pitch.


    Currently, other woods that flutes are being made out of today besides cedar are the following: maple, cherry, apple, pear, teak, walnut, purpleheart, ash, and spruce. This includes making them out of tree branches as opposed to buying a block of the relevant wood at a hardware store. There were cultural uses of the flute.

    According to the guide at the Cherokee National Museum, the flute was used in courting. Furthermore, when the man was successful with the flute in his courting purposes in the matriarchal society of the Cherokee Nation, the woman whom he had successfully courted broke the flute in half. She did so to prevent him from playing it for anyone else. For the Cheyenne, it is historically for courting and personal expression. While some tribes have used the flute in ceremony, it’s crucial to state that some have not – all the tribes are different.


    What does all this have to do with the fact that soldiers who became sleepy accused the Cheyenne of performing witchcraft when they heard Cheyenne flute music in the Cheyenne  camps? According to the Cheyenne Flute Maker, when the soldiers were in the camps and heard the flute music being played, the soldiers got sleepy and fell asleep. The Doctrine of Discovery states, “to find, discover and investigate whatsoever islands, countries, regions or provinces of heathens and infidels, in whatsoever part of the world placed, which before this time were unknown to all Christians;” and, Henry VII authorized Cabot to “conquer, occupy and possess” any discovered land whatsoever. Let’s think of the question again. What does this have to do with the fact that the soldiers accused the Cheyenne of performing witchcraft? It wouldn’t be the first time in history that fundamentalists associated music virtuosity, originality, and excellence with evil. For example, some thought Paganini played the violin so fast and furious that he was possessed by demons, and some believed Robert Johnson sold his soul to the Devil in order to play the blues. It’s a very broad answer to answer why the soldiers accused the Cheyenne of witchcraft.

    Regardless of the grain of truth that may exist in Spain introducing the Bamboo Flute to very few tribes, Spain wished to conquer the world. Ceremonies, languages, Indigenous musical styles, and ways of life were all affected by the invaders. Ceremonies? Hidden or now lost, yet survived in cases. Languages? Pronunciation or now lost, yet survived in cases. Indigenous musical styles? Musical influence from the “Church” modes. Ways of life? Gone as entire tribal entities when comparing past and present in the United States and in Canada; furthermore, try imagining what the above would now be if the invaders had never come. Indigenous population(s) who have been unmolested worldwide would be an exception, but the former and the latter previously mentioned affected cultural aspects and most likely unaffected cultures would require a dissertation. “Columbus was a disease” I heard it once said, as the speaker related how an entire uncommunicating network of different Indigenous tribes no longer do ceremonies to care for Mother Earth because of the genocide. But I digress even further as I add my thoughts in agreement with this (emphasis mine).


    Whether it’s pentatonic mode plus a note, or Dorian mode minus a note, or the six note Raga Mahohari mode, such labels are attempts to contemporize the Native American Flute.

    The flute was used for courting within relevant tribal customs before and during the time of being actively hunted; it was used for personal expression; it was used for ceremonial purposes. Why is it that today some want to interpret the notes the earliest flutes may have played in terms of a sliver of music theory – the major scale of which at least 80% of Western music is based?


    …most Western music is played in a major key: 97 percent of popular American songs, and 73 percent of classical music is in a major key.

    Tunnel vision is being applied to universal sound which is owed to the vibrations of the harmonic series and crosses cultural boundaries as a universal language, but little minds always like things much smaller, don’t they? The scissor tail sings the Lydian dominant scale, except just prior to mating. Then he sings the blues scale.  Witchcraft indeed.


    The brains behind Dreams Kaimin is Dr Takuro Endo, a neurologist who has made a science, and a lucrative CD business, out of selecting the right music to induce sleep. He divides it into three categories: melodies that fire the imagination; those that are calming and relaxing; and music that should, within ten minutes, slow the brain down to the point of unconsciousness.

    But a fictitious flute spell is not what needs to be broken. How is it that all these different cultures worldwide developed the flute?


    Symbols of the American Indian come down to us in many forms.  Some are beaded on elaborate wampum belts, others are found on strips of buffalo hide and more are seen chiseled on stone.  Probably the most reliable, in terms of graphic interpretation, are those found in the Southwest commonly called ‘rock art’. According to some estimates there are over 50,000 “known” stone petroglyphs and pictographs in the Southwest and West alone. Many more probably exist in remote areas or covered by modern civilization.  Certainly, more existed prior to the European invasion.  


    Flutes are the earliest known musical instruments. A number of flutes dating to about 40,000 to 35,000 years ago have been found in the Swabian Alb region of Germany. These flutes demonstrate that a developed musical tradition existed from the earliest period of modern human presence in Europe.[1]


    Kokopelli, ancient humpbacked flute player, is the Southwest’s most popular icon. Presented here are more than 300 flute player images, including a great many that have never been published. Along with new information about the meaning and origin of Kokopelli, some of it challenges our current understanding of this unmistakable character. Explore the range of the flute player and see how it extends south into Mexico, north into Canada, west into Nevada, and east into the plains of Colorado, Texas, and Oklahoma.


    Flutes made of bamboo are found in many musical traditions.The Gamelan in Indonesia use them.

    Some bamboo flutes include:


    The Indian flute, one of the oldest instruments of Indian classical music, appears to have developed independently of the western flute. The Hindu god Krishna is said to be a master of the instrument.

    How is it that all those different cultures worldwide developed the flute without communicating? My best and only guess, is they “recognized their tune.”


    Shortly after this research, Maman met French physicist Joel Sternheimer, who discovered the vibratory frequency of elementary particles. Long before the “string theory”, Sternheimer was transposing certain molecular structures into musical patterns, creating “the music of the molecules.”

    Like Maman’s cellular research, Sternheimer found that if there was a problem in an organic structure, the molecules of that structure did not vibrate, but if they heard the string of notes they recognized as their tune, they began to vibrate again.

    There are no clear specific origins of the flute of any culture, except for the stories sacred to that culture and the obvious elements of the instrument’s construction with its cultural usages. What is clear is that each is a unique stylistic interpretation of a universal language, but let the mystery remain of who created it first individually –


    or collectively in its birth across the globe.


    Some likely have made false claims, but let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken – while maintaining the individual integrity of all.


    …The earliest possible evidence of Shamanic activity in the Americas comes from the recently excavated Jones-Miller site in Colorado (Stanford 1979). At this Plano kill site, dating to about 8,000 B.C., bison herds were slaughtered, apparently by driving them between ice-glazed snow banks. A post hole was discerned by the excavator, and near it were found an antler flute, a miniature point, and other objects that might have belonged to a Shaman…

    The Cherokee and the United States, the First Decade

    The United States came into existence in its current governmental form with the adoption of the Constitution in 1787. Under the Constitution, the federal government, not the states, was to be involved with the Indian tribes. For the Cherokee, one of the largest tribes in the American southeast, the creation of the United States led to a decade of conflicts with the Americans which set the stage for dramatic changes in Cherokee culture and culminated in the nineteenth century Trail of Tears.  

    In 1787, militia from the State of Franklin attacked the Cherokee town of Coyatee, Tennessee, burned the council house, and destroyed the Cherokee corn. The militia then went to Chota where they held council with Cherokee leader Corn Tassel, accusing the Cherokee of killing two men. At gunpoint, Corn Tassel and Hanging Man were forced to sign the treaty of Coyatee which surrendered to Franklin all of the Cherokee land north of the Little Tennessee River. There was little concern for the new American Constitution which required legal dealings with Indians to be conducted at the federal level. As a side note, the two men which the Cherokee were accused of killing were actually killed in 1782 in Ohio by non-Cherokee Indians.  

    Following the forced treaty negotiations with the State of Franklin, the Americans asked a number of Cherokee to attend a council. The Cherokee came to the council under the white flag of truce and some, such as Corn Tassel, flew the American flag at their homes to signify their alliance with the United States. At the council, Corn Tassel, Long Fellow, Abram, and several other national Cherokee leaders were axed to death by the Americans. As a result of this unprovoked attack on their leaders, the Cherokee abandoned their town of Chota and many moved into northwestern Georgia.

    Creek leader Alexander McGillivray reacted with anger when he hears of the murders:

    “I don’t know what to think of a government that is compelled to wink at such outrages.”

    In 1787, a Cherokee war party under the leadership of Bloody Fellow attacked Gillespie’s Fort, Tennessee, killing 28 people, most of them women. The Cherokee left a note telling the Americans that when they left Cherokee land the killing would stop. In addition to Bloody Fellow, Taken Out of the Water, Glass, and John Watts, all war captains, signed the note.

    Also in 1787, Dragging Canoe’s Cherokee warriors attacked American troops at the Hiwassee River in Tennessee and obliged them to retreat.

    By 1787, it was evident to some Cherokee that peace with the United States was not a possibility and that the Americans, obsessed with greed for Cherokee land, would not rest until the Cherokee people were exterminated. They began to look for a new home outside of the United States. Some Cherokee under the leadership of Toquo asked the Spanish colonial government for permission to settle in Spanish territory west of the Mississippi River. The Spanish government approved the establishment of six Cherokee villages along the Saint Francis River in what is now Arkansas and Missouri. This marked the beginning of the Cherokee migrations west of the Mississippi.

    One of the first major pieces of legislation dealing with Indians was the Indian Trade and Intercourse Act which Congress passed in 1790. The Act  forbids the private purchase of Indian land; provides for the punishment of non-Indians who commit crimes in Indian country; and licenses those who trade with Indians. Purchase of Indian land must be done at a treaty council held under federal auspices. The Act intended to guarantee fair trading practices with Indians and to establish the integrity of Indian lands by declaring invalid all land acquisitions not sanctioned by the federal government.

    In 1791, the Cherokee signed the Treaty of Holston which was intended to end hostilities between the United States and the Cherokee. The treaty gave the United States the exclusive right to trade with the Cherokee and prohibited the Cherokee from entering into diplomatic relations with other foreign powers, individual, or state. Signing the treaty for the Cherokee were Dragging Canoe, Bloody Fellow, Doublehead, Lying Fawn, John Watts, and Little Turkey.

    The treaty also called for the United States to advance civilization among the Cherokees by giving them farm tools and technical advice. The United States promised that the land remaining to the Cherokee would be theirs forever.

    In addressing Cherokee concerns over settlers, Article VIII gave the Cherokee the power to punish United States citizens who settled on Cherokee lands. The treaty stated:

    “If any person, not an Indian, shall settle on any of the Cherokees’ lands, he shall forfeit the protection of the United States, and the Cherokees may punish him.”

    Following the signing of the treaty some Cherokee were dissatisfied and in 1792 they sent a delegation to Philadelphia. Six Cherokee chiefs, including Bloody Fellow and Northward, met with President George Washington and with Secretary of War Henry Knox. They complained about the Treaty of Holston and Bloody Fellow recounted the arguments over the Cherokee boundaries and how they had finally given in. He asked that the $1,000 annuity be raised to $1,500 and the Secretary of War signed an agreement to this effect as an additional article to the treaty.  Following the meeting, Bloody Fellow was given the new name of Eskaqua (Iskaqua) which means Clear Sky and was designated as a general by the Americans.

    The Cherokee at this time, while they recognized linguistic and cultural associations, did not have a central council or government. The Cherokee nation was composed of several loose confederacies of affiliated towns. Among the Cherokee, the towns were loosely affiliated into three groups: (1) the Lower Towns on the headwaters of the Savannah River (including the towns of Keowee and Estatoe), (2) the Middle Towns on the headwaters of the Little Tennessee River (including Etchoe, Stecoe), and (3) the Upper Towns (Overhill and Valley) on the Lower Little Tennessee River and the headwater of the Hiwassee River River (including Settico and Tellico). Under pressure from the American settlers, the various towns began to come together occasionally in council.

    In 1792, President George Washington appointed an agent to take up residence among the Cherokee and to provide them with instruction in “civilization.” The agent was to be a liaison between the United States and the Cherokee and to promote American interests among the Cherokee.

    In 1792, the Cherokee National Council met at Esanaula. Little Turkey, recognized as the Beloved Man (Principal Chief), presided over the meeting. Hanging Maw spoke as the Beloved Man of the Northern Towns and Badger (Occunna) spoke as the Beloved Man of the Southern Towns. A speech from President George Washington was read to the council. The chiefs were disturbed that American settlers were not being removed. The council opposed American boats traveling freely up and down the Tennessee River.

    Armed conflicts and threats of armed conflicts between the Americans and the Cherokee continued in 1792. In Alabama, the Chickamauga Cherokee under the leadership John Watts and Bob Benge formally declared war on the United States and put out a call to all Cherokee warriors. John Watts then read the 600 warriors a letter from the Spanish governor which promised them all of the provisions which they would need for war. Bloody Fellow talked against going to war. The words for peace, however, went unheeded as the warriors painted their faces black and prepared for war against the Americans. The war captains included John Taylor, Tahlonteskee, Glass, Fool Charles, and Breath. The war party was delayed, however, when Whiteman Killer arrived with a canoe load of whiskey.

    A mixed group of Cherokee, Creek, and Shawnee warriors attacked Buchanan’s Station, four miles south of Nashville, Tennessee. The Americans repelled the attack and Cherokee war leader John Watts was seriously wounded.

    In a message to Congress addressing the problems with the Cherokee and the Creek, President  George Washington in 1793 called for the establishment of commerce with the Indians as the solution to the Indian problem. Thomas Jefferson, in a report to President Washington, said:

    “The Indians had the full, undivided and independent sovereignty as long as they choose to keep it, and this might be forever.”

    The violence between the Cherokee and the Americans continued in 1793. In Kentucky, Cherokee warriors Doublehead, Pumpkin Boy, and Bench ambushed two Americans. After scalping them, the Cherokee then stripped the flesh from their bones, roasted it, and ate it.

    An American militia group attacked a camp of friendly Cherokee in Tennessee who were meeting with American agents. Cherokee leader Fool Charles was killed and Hanging Maw was wounded. As a result of the attack, the Cherokee united for a time under the leadership of John Watts. The leader of the militia group was arrested, tried, and acquitted.

    In Tennessee, a Cherokee war party under the leadership of John Watts attacked the settlement home of Alexander Cavet, a household of three men and ten women and children. The Americans surrendered as John Watts promised to spare their lives. As they came out, however, Doublehead attacked the Americans with a war ax, killing all except for one boy.

    In 1794, a delegation of Cherokee, including Taken Out of Water, Northward, Doublehead, John McLemore, and Arthur Coody, were invited to Philadelphia to reaffirm the Treaty of Holston. Doublehead managed to increase the Cherokee annuity from $1,500 to $5,000.

    In 1794, the informal, undeclared, and often deadly war was continued. In Tennessee, an American boat loaded with trade goods was fired upon by the Cherokee as it passed through their territory. In the exchange of fire, two Cherokee were wounded. A war party under the leadership of Whiteman Killer caught up with the boat farther downstream, killing all of the Americans, and capturing the boat’s cargo. In retaliation for the attack on the boat, the American infantry destroyed the Cherokee towns of Nickajack and Running Water. Cherokee leader Breath was killed.

    In 1794, the Cherokee met with the Americans at Tellico, Tennessee, to discuss peace. Approximately 40 chiefs signed a treaty of peace. Those signing included Bear at Home, Thick Legs, Broom, Little Turkey, John Watts, Glass, Pathkiller, Stallion, and Tallatuskee. With this treaty a relative peace settled on Cherokee country.

    The peace was soon broken: in Alabama, Cherokee warriors under the leadership of Bowl attacked an American settlement on the Tennessee River. The Cherokee council denounced this action and offered to help in the arrest of Bowl. Bowl and his followers crossed the Mississippi and settled in Spanish territory in present-day Missouri.

    Nearly a decade after the adoption of the Constitution, in 1796, President George Washington published an open letter to the Cherokee Nation. Washington promised the Cherokee that the federal government would enforce treaties honorably and ensured Cherokee survival as a people and a nation. While Washington, as a man of personal integrity, was undoubtedly sincere in these promises, and his words were accepted by the Cherokee as a sacred vow, the United States would not keep its commitments to the Cherokee.

    Tennessee was admitted to statehood in 1796. The new state contained a great deal of Cherokee land, and the new state’s leaders, most of whom were involved with land speculation, put pressure on the federal government to obtain this Cherokee land.

    The Cherokee migrations west of the Mississippi River continued as more people attempted to find peace in Spanish territory. The journey west, however, was not without difficulties. In 1796, a group of Lower Town Cherokee loaded their families and supplies into six canoes to move to Missouri. They were, however, attacked by a Chickasaw war party under the leadership of William Colbert.

    After a bit more than a decade of dealing with the new United States government, the Cherokee council met at Tellico, Tennessee in 1798 to sign a new treaty which would renew the previous treaties. The new treaty, in response to insatiable American obsession for land, called for new land cessions, and provided for an additional $1,000 in annuities. Signing the treaty for the Cherokee are Bloody Fellow, Little Turkey, Taken Out of Water, Doublehead, and Tahlonteskee.

    This was not the last treaty which the Cherokee would sign, nor would it be their last land cession: this first decade of interaction with the newly formed United States simply set the stage for ongoing conflicts, demands for Cherokee cultural extermination, and efforts by the Cherokee to ensure their continuation as a distinct people.

    The Discovery Doctrine

    European nations assumed that they had a right to govern the Indian nations they encountered. This right stemmed from the legal and religious Doctrine of Discovery which declares that Christian nations have a right, if not an obligation, to govern all non-Christian nations. Once an Indian nation had been read the Christian history of the world, even though it might be read to them in a language they did not understand, then they were obligated to be ruled by the superior Christian nation.  

    The Catholic Pope in 1452 laid the foundation for the Doctrine of Discovery by issuing the papal bull dum diversas which instructed the Portuguese monarchy:  

    “to invade, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens, pagans, and other enemies of Christ, to put them into perpetual slavery, and to take away all their possessions and property.”

    A papal bull is a special kind of patent or charter issued by a pope. It is called a “bull” because of the seal (bulla) which was appended to the end of it and served to authenticate the document.

    The Doctrine of Discovery provided Europeans with what they viewed as the legal right to claim the Americas. Europeans felt that while non-Christian Indian nations owned the land, the European nations, as Christian nations, had the right to rule Indian nations. If the Indian nations failed to recognize this right, then the Christian nations could wage a just war against them.

    In 1513, the Doctrine of Discovery was formalized by the Spanish in a document called the “Requirement”. The “requirement” or “requerimento” was drawn up by Palacios Rubios, Spain’s master jurist, and provided the legal basis for the Spanish conquest of the Americas. All Spanish expeditions were required to carry a copy of the document. In the document, King Ferdinand told Native Americans that God had declared that the Pope rules all people, regardless of their law, sect, or belief. This included Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, or any other sect. He asked that the Native Americans come forward of their own free will to convert to Catholicism or

    “with the help of God we shall use force against you, declaring war upon you from all sides and with all possible means, and we shall bind you to the yoke of the Church and Their Highnesses; we shall enslave your persons, wives, and sons, sell you or dispose of you as the King sees fit; we shall seize your possessions and harm you as much as we can as disobedient and resisting vassals.”

    Furthermore, the Natives who resist are to be held guilty of all resulting deaths and injuries.

    Upon contacting an Indian village, the Spanish conquistadores would read the ‘Requirement’ which recited the history of the world as they knew it, from the Garden of Eden to the recent discovery. It did not make any difference that the natives might not understand Spanish or Latin, or that they might have their own history of the world. Once the word of the Spanish god was revealed, a just war could be waged on those who rejected it.

    The idea of a “just war” was based upon the word of Saint Augustine. Under this concept, a just war was one that was waged to right an injustice or wrong by another nation. One of these wrongs, according to the Christian view, was not being Christian. Thus, if an Indian nation were to fail to let missionaries live and preach among them, then they were committing a “wrong” which would have to be set right through a “just war.”

    The Doctrine of Discovery entered into American jurisprudence in 1823 when the Supreme Court ruled on Johnson and Graham’s Lessee versus McIntosh. The Court found that the Doctrine of Discovery gave sovereignty of Indian lands to England and then to the United States. Indian nations, under this Doctrine, have a right of occupancy to the land. Christian nations, such as England and the United States, have superior rights over the inferior culture and inferior religion of the Indians. According to the Court, Indians have been compensated for their lands by having the gift of Christianity bestowed upon them.

    In 2005, the Supreme Court once again cited the Discovery Doctrine in City of Sherrill v Oneida Indian Nation of New York.

    In 2009, Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons asked Pope Benedict XVI to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery. The Pope declined. On numerous other occasions, Indian leaders in the Americas have formally asked the Pope to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery. At the present time, it would appear that this is still the policy of the Catholic Church and is a part of American law.

    The Episcopal Church adopted a resolution in 2009 repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. The resolution called on the United States to review its historical and contemporary policies that contributed to the continued colonization of native peoples. The resolution also called for Queen Elizabeth II to repudiate publicly the validity of the Doctrine of Discovery.

    Writing Indian History in the Early 20th Century

    During the nineteenth century non-Indian scholars, intellectuals, government officials, and others were convinced that American Indians were a dying race and that by the twentieth century, Indians would have vanished. Thus, when the twentieth century started Indians became invisible, relics of a mythical past. The symbol of American Indians was “The End of the Trail,” a 1915 equestrian statue by James E. Fraser which was shown at the San Francisco Exposition. Small replicas of the statue were widely distributed and displayed in many middle class homes as the symbol that American Indian destiny had run its course.

    End of the Trail

    During the era from the beginning of the twentieth century to the Second World War, the image of American Indians was firmly set in a mythical past created in the vivid imaginations of popular books, magazines, and movies. This image had little to do with historical reality and formed in the minds of most Americans an unreal sense of American Indian history. During this time, however, a number of writers, both Indian and non-Indian, began an attempt to create a more realistic, and perhaps more accurate, image of American Indian history.

    Non-Indian Writers:

    Curtis Book

    Perhaps the best known, and certainly most massive publishing project prior to the Second World War was photographer Edward S. Curtis’s 30-year project documenting 80 tribes in 40,000 pictures. The material, which included both photographs and ethnological text, was published in a 20 volume set. In his photographs, Curtis sought to capture his vision of the vanishing Indian and thus often supplied his subjects with wigs (long hair for Indian men was not allowed at this time) and props, including shirts, headdresses, tipis, and canoes. Curtis chose to ignore contemporary living conditions in order to create images of a mythical past.  

    Curtis Blackfoot

    A Curtis photograph of a Blackfoot (Piegan) lodge is shown above. Curtis removed the alarm clock which was between the two men.  

    Curtis Indian Portrait

    One of Curtis’ Indian portraits is shown above.

    Curtis Navajo

    A Curtis photograph from Navajo country is shown above.


    Edward S. Curtis, Self Portrait, is shown above.

    In 1936, historian Angie Debo finished the initial draft of her book And Still the Waters Run which documented the criminal conspiracy to cheat the Indians out of their land in Oklahoma. Concerned about the political and legal ramifications of the book, the editor for the University of Oklahoma Press sent it to Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier. Collier turned the manuscript over to Flathead writer D’Arcy McNickle. McNickle commented that-

    “nothing quite so ambitious has been attempted. Indian history has been so neglected by serious students and so overrun by sentimentalists and free-lance commentators of various stripes and colors that it is a real joy to come across a work of such competence.”

    In 1937, concerned about the potential for libel in Angie Debo’s And Still the Waters Run, the University of Oklahoma Press submitted it to a University law professor who told them that it would be impossible to avoid libel suits. The President of the University recommended that the book not be published. Debo’s contract for publishing the book was therefore cancelled. The book was finally published in 1940 by the Princeton University Press. Following the publication of the book, she was barred from teaching in Oklahoma.

    One of the reasons for publishing books about Indians during this time was to promote tourism. In 1903, the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway published Indians of the Southwest as a guide to the cultures of the region specifically designed for train passengers. The text was written by George Dorsey of the Field Museum in Chicago and told tourists how to explore the region. The book also provided information for those tourists who were content to do their adventuring from the train.

    In order to promote tourism to Glacier National Park in Montana, the Great Northern Railroad published American Indian Portraits in 1928. This colorful book featured paintings of Blackfoot Indians from the reservation adjacent to the Park.

    Some of the books written during this era were political and focused on federal Indian policies. In a 1910 book entitled The Indian and his Problem former Commissioner of Indian Affairs Francis Leupp condemned treaties and was firm in the conviction that Indians must be individualized and assimilated.  The Red Man in the United States, written in 1919 by G. E. E. Lindquist for the Inter-Church Movement, documented poverty on Indian reservations. The book was written in an old-style missionary language and praised those Indians who walked the “Jesus Road.” The book had minimal impact on federal Indian policy.

    George Bird Grinnell’s The Fighting Cheyennes was published in 1915. At this time there were a number of stories being published about army battles with the Indians. While the non-Indian public showed a great deal of interest in these stories, Grinnell took a very different approach and collected the Indian stories about the battles.

    Anthropologist Ruth Bunzel published The Pueblo Potter in 1929. In this book she identified Nampeyo (Tewa from the village of Hano on the Hopi reservation) and María Martínez (from San Ildefonso Pueblo) as two potters who had originated new directions and new styles in Native American pottery. No longer were Pueblo potters faceless artisans: Bunzel, by giving Nampeyo and Maria credit for personal preference and imagination within the Pueblo pottery tradition, showed them to be modern individuals.


    Nampeyo is shown above.

    As Told To Books:

    Indian voices have often been interpreted for non-Indian audiences by non-Indian writers in the format of “as told to” books. The most famous of these is Black Elk Speaks in which former Lakota holy man Black Elk shared his sacred teachings with John G. Neihardt, the Nebraska poet laureate. The book was largely ignored when first published in 1932, but later became a popular source of sacred information for both Indians and non-Indians.

    Black Elk was treating a sick boy in 1904 when a Catholic priest burst into the room, disrupted the ceremony, threw away Black Elk’s drum and rattle, and called him Satan. Black Elk felt that the priest’s powers were greater than his and vowed to never again practice the Lakota religion. He took instruction in Catholicism and was baptized Nicholas Black Elk. He never again practiced the Lakota spiritual ceremonies. He became a Catholic catechist and converted many Indian people to Christianity.

    Black Elk Speaks organizes Lakota religion in a Christian framework and thus communicated with people who were raised in Christianity. There are many who feel that the book is more about Christianity than the aboriginal religion.

    Other “as told to” books include Goodbird the Indian: His Story, written in 1914 by anthropologist Gilbert L. Wilson based on information provided by Wolf-Chief, an Hidatsa man. The book is intended to teach Christian children about other cultures. In 1932 the story of Crow medicine woman Pretty Shield was told by Frank Linderman in the book Red Mother (later published as Pretty-Shield: Medicine Woman of the Crows). In her story, she talked about the traditional ways of the Crow in Montana.

    Indian Writers:

    In 1911, a group of six Indian intellectuals-Arthur Caswell Parker (Seneca), Dr. Charles A. Eastman (Sioux), Sherman Coolidge (Arapaho), Thomas L. Sloan (Omaha), Charles Daganett (Peoria), Dr. Carlos Montezuma (Yavapai), and Zitkala-sa (Sioux)-founded the Society of American Indians. The new organization hoped to forge a new relationship between the dominant non-Indian society and American Indians. Several of these founders wrote books about various aspects of Indian history and culture.

    Dr. Charles Eastman, a physician, wrote ten books beginning in 1902 with Indian Boyhood.  His The Soul of the Indian was published in 1911. He wrote:

    “I have attempted to paint the religious life of the typical American Indian as it was before he knew the white man. I have long wished to do this, because I cannot find that it has ever been seriously, adequately, and sincerely done. The religion of the Indian is the last thing about him that the man of another race will ever understand.”

    Eastman, who was a Christian, wrote of the missionaries:

    “The first missionaries, good men imbued with the narrowness of their age, branded us as pagans and devil-worshippers, and demanded of us that we abjure our false gods before bowing the knee at their sacred altar.”


    Eastman is shown above.

    The Indian Today was published in 1915. In it Eastman wrote:

    “It is the aim of this book to set forth the present status and outlook of the North American Indians.”

    In a chapter entitled “The Indian in College and the Professions,” he wrote about Carlos Montezuma, a Yavapai physician whose practice was in Chicago:

    “He stands uncompromisingly for the total abolition of the reservation systems and the Indian Bureau, holding that the red man must be allowed to work out his own salvation.”

    Eastman’s book Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains was published in 1918 and presented the stories of 15 Indian leaders. Eastman explained the purpose of the book:

    “I should like to present some of the greatest chiefs of modern times in the light of the native character and ideals, believing that the American people will gladly do them tardy justice.”

    He also explained the concept of the “chief”:

    “It is a singular fact that many of the ‘chiefs’, well known as such to the American public, were not chiefs at all according to the accepted usages of their tribesmen. Their prominence was simply the result of an abnormal situation, in which representatives of the United States Government made use of them for a definite purpose.”

    Seneca anthropologist Arthur Caswell Parker published The Constitution of the Five Nations in 1916. The book included a series of documents describing Deganawida and Hiawatha and the founding of the Iroquois Confederacy. Parker argues that the Iroquois governmental system is “the greatest ever devised by barbaric man on any continent.”

    Arthur Parker

    Arthur Caswell Parker is shown above.

    Arthur Caswell Parker’s The Indian How Book was published in 1927. The book was an attempt to explain to non-Indians how Indians did things. In the book, he combined factual information about Indians with practical advice about surviving outdoors. The book countered some common racial stereotypes and the common notion that all Indians were nomadic hunters. Parker wrote about the Iroquois Three Sisters-corn, beans, squash-and pointed out that the Iroquois had large fields at the time of their first contact with the French.

    Yankton Sioux writer Zitkala-Sa’s collection of American Indian Stories was published in 1921. Her essay “Why I Am a Pagan” was retitled as “The Great Spirit” and was edited to remove some material. With these changes, the tone of the essay changed from anger to reassuring peace.

    Zitkala Sa

    Zitkala-Sa is shown above.

    Oxford educated Osage historian John Joseph Mathews published Wah’Kon-Tah: The Osage and the White Man’s Road in 1931. This became the first book by a Native American writer to be selected by the Book-of-the-Month Club.

    Luther Standing Bear, a Lakota who had graduated from Carlisle Indian School and had been a part of  Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show, wrote a number of books, including My People the Sioux, My Indian Boyhood (1931), The Land of the Spotted Eagle (1933) and Stories of the Sioux (1934).

    Luther Standing Bear

    Luther Standing Bear is shown above.

    The Middle Five: Indian Schoolboys of the Omaha Tribe, written by Francis LaFlesche in 1900, presented a nostalgic portrait of a student’s experiences at the Presbyterian mission school on the Omaha Reservation.

    Lucy Thompson (Che-na-wah Weitch-ah-wah), a Klamath/Yurok from California, self-published To the American Indian in 1916. In this book she argued that she was in a better position than any other person to tell the true facts of the religion of her people.

    The Autobiography of a Winnebago Indian was published in 1913. In this autobiography Sam Blowsnake (also known as Crashing Thunder) told about his life and his conversion to the Native American Church (peyote religion). The book was originally transcribed in a syllabary adapted for use with the Winnebago language and then translated into English by Oliver La Mere.

    In 1921, Maxidiwiac, an Hidatsa woman, published Wa-Hee-Nee: An Indian Girl’s Story, Told by Herself.

    Federal Writers’ Project:

    The Federal Writers’ Project (FWP) began in 1936 as an art project for the Works Progress Administration (WPA). With regard to Indians, the writers were advised to consult the Bureau of American Ethnography reports and with reservation officials to determine tribal histories. If the Indians interviewed by the writers gave different versions of this history, these were to be included in the guide. Indians, however, were seen as a group that existed outside of history as the histories were to begin with the Europeans and Indian history treated separately.

    Hi, back again. This is about propane and the Dakotas, to some extent.

    Been going through all sorts of personal stuff, much of it very good. Hi Navajo! You are so wonderful, I was thinking about you this evening.

    I write on the evening of a holiday that hasn’t gotten entirely owned by bad religions; a day of the dead. I set out candles and made pumpkins. I love the pagan of all of this.

    I thought of the dead, and respected their spirits, as I thought of them.

    I thought, again, of the people up in the Dakotas, freezing. Not yet, I expect. But climate is going to make thing so weird.

    Still, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I think First Nations people should not have to have to deal with “climate change” in order to be respected and helped. I see respect and help as being very close, too.

    It is not good to assume that one is not worthy unless one suffers horribly. That’s terrible wasichu (that’s spelled wrong but you know what I mean) craziness. Wetiko. All of that. Very crazy. Bad stuff.

    There is good craziness. That is important to remember. But it’s all so fragile.

    Navajo knows I have sent some money to the people up in the Dakotas for fuel in the winter.

    (more over the fold)

    I have decided to send more. I have decided to send another $500 to St. Francis, the fuel company up there in the Dakotas, run by only NA women, who ensure that every penny will go to buy propane for those who are most need.

    I already sent one $500 for this a few months back.

    Am I asking you to bless me for this?

    No. Absolutely not.

    I am just doing this, and I run it through Navajo, who I trust.

    I don’t even ask you to trust me.

    I don’t have the right.

    I do not have the right to do so, as a person of European descent.

    I do not believe that I have that right.

    I’ve framed myself into a place where I can ask myself; “What rights do I have, what can I do that will give me more rights?”

    And sending money to propane funds for a propane business run entirely by Native American women who will go out there in the storms and deliver tanks to NA people on the Rosebud Rez, turned out to be something I could do, at least a bit, sometimes, that might actually give me more rights, in my own heart.

    Thank you, Navajo, for that beautiful photoessay you made on Daily Kos last year, with all of the people.

    I’ll be in touch with you shortly. Also, there is a Navajo subreddit on Reddit; I could crosspost this there.