Christian Imperialism

One example of religious imperialism can be seen in the era following the Age of Discovery which began in the fifteenth century. European kings, and later the United States, used a legal fiction known as the Doctrine of Discovery to justify their acquisition of new territories outside of Europe. Following this doctrine, Christianity is seen as superior to all other religions and therefore Christian monarchs (and later Christian republics such as the United States) have a legal and religious right and even an obligation to impose their rule on all non-Christians.

It should be noted that the Doctrine of Discovery applies only to Christian nations in their dealings with non-Christian peoples. In his book American Indians and the Law, law professor Bruce Duthu writes:

“Only Christian colonizers in their encounters with non-Christian peoples could invoke the discovery doctrine. An indigenous seafaring tribe, by contrast, could not plant a flag in the British Isles or on the beaches of Normandy and make comparable claims to England or France under the doctrine.”

Law and its interpretation by the courts regarding American Indians in the United States are based on two concepts: (1) the U.S. Constitution, and (2) legal precedents from international law, primarily a legal fiction known as the Doctrine of Discovery.

In 1787, the United States adopted a constitution which is considered the supreme law of the land. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 delegates to Congress the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes” and thus dealings with the tribes are to be federal. Most of the litigation regarding Indian matters concerns this clause. However, it has not been unusual for legal scholars, including one Supreme Court Chief Justice, and for many politicians and government leaders to ignore this clause.

The Doctrine of Discovery is not well-known to people who are not: (a) historians, (b) legal scholars, or (c) American Indians. In brief, this is an ancient European Christian legal concept which says that Christian nations have a right, if not an obligation, to rule over all non-Christian nations. Thus, the European nations, and the United States after 1787, felt that they had a legal right to govern American Indians. The Doctrine of Discovery gave Christian nations, including the United States, the right to take land away from indigenous peoples paying for it with the gift of Christianity.

The Popes and Spanish Law

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.” The ideas found in this papal document were later woven into U.S. Indian law and continues to guide U.S. Indian policy.

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 original papal bull, which is still in force, was strengthened in 1455 with another papal bull, Romanus Pontifex, which sanctified the seizure of non-Christian lands and encouraged the slavery of natives. Following the discovery of the Americas by the Europeans, Papal bulls by Pope Alexander VI in 1493 granted Spain and Portugal all of the lands in the Americas which were not under Christian rule. This began the European assumption that the native people of the area didn’t really own the land because they were not Christian. The Pope decreed that:  “barbarous nations be overthrown and brought to the faith itself.”  The Inter Caetera papal bull stated: “We trust in Him from whom empires, and governments, and all good things proceed.”

This laid the legal foundation for assuming that government comes only from the Christian god and therefore Christian nations have a legal right to rule over non-Christian nations. Indian writer Vine Deloria would later comment:

“Thus armed with a totally bogus title issued by God’s representative on earth, the Spaniards then began a brutal conquest in the Americas which virtually obliterated the native populations in the Caribbean within a generation.”

The Doctrine of Discovery provided Europeans with the legal right to claim the Americas. 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.

By 1513, Palacios Rubios, Spain’s master jurist, had refined the Doctrine of Discovery into a document which was to be read aloud, in Spanish or in Latin, when new peoples and/or lands were encountered. The fact that the indigenous people might not speak Spanish or Latin was not seen as relevant. The document recited the Christian history of the world and then demanded that the Natives accept this version of history and submit themselves to the authority of the Christian Spanish King. The indigenous people were told that God has declared that the Pope rules all people, regardless of their law, sect, or belief. This includes Christians, Moors, Jews, Gentiles, or any other sect. The Native Americans were to 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 from the “just” war waged against them. The idea of a “just war” is 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.”

American Law

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.

The Supreme Court’s use of the Doctrine of Discovery in Johnson and Graham’s Lessee versus McIntosh laid the foundation for Indian law that still continues. The decision reinforced the superiority of Christianity as a governing philosophy and paid little attention to either Indian history or the possibility of Indian religions.

In an article in This Week from Indian Country Today, Steven Newcomb, Director of the Indigenous Law Institute, writes:

“From the perspective of Western Christendom, it was the ‘god-given’ right of all Christian sovereigns to locate and dominate (“possess”) all non-Christian lands on the planet.”

In 1954, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in the Tee-Hit-Ton case. The government argued that under international law Christian nations can acquire lands occupied by heathens and infidels. In an article in Indian Country Today, Steven Newcomb writes:

“This is a religiously premised argument. It is also racist, to be sure, but it is an argument made by the United States government on the basis of the Christian religion.”

In their argument, the United States government not only cited the nineteenth century case of Johnson v M’Intosh, but also the Papal bulls of the fifteenth century and the Old Testament from the Bible.

In 1955, the Supreme Court announced its decision which denied the Tee-Hit-Ton any compensation for the taking of the timber. According to the Court:

 “The Christian nations of Europe acquired jurisdiction over newly discovered lands by virtue of grants from the Popes, who claimed the power to grant Christian monarchs the right to acquire territory in the possession of heathens and infidels.”

Legal scholar Steven Newcomb, in an articles in Indian Country Today, writes of the government’s brief:

“It is a gem of religious racism that fully documents the illegitimate foundation of U.S. Indian law and policy.”

The Tee-Hit-Ton case reaffirmed the Doctrine of Discovery as the basis for U.S. law with regard to Indian nations. It reaffirmed this Christian doctrine as the principle to be used in judging American Indians and discounted American Indian history and religious traditions. It denied that Indians had any legal rights as pagan nations. Attorney Peter D’Errico, in an article in This Week from Indian Country Today, sums up the case:

“It reaffirms Christian Discovery as the basis of U.S. law regarding Indian nations; and it says this racist religious doctrine is still in full force and effect. It also says that Indians as people are not covered by the U.S. Constitution, which undermines the arguments of those who believe the Constitution ‘protects’ Indians.”

In 2005, the Supreme Court once again cited the Discovery Doctrine in City of Sherrill v Oneida Indian Nation of New York. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote:

“Under the ‘doctrine of discovery,’ fee title to the lands occupied by the Indians when the colonists arrived became vested in the sovereign—first the discovering European nation and later the original States and the United States.”

George Zebrowski, in an article in Free Inquiry, writes:

“In other words, the Sherrill decision was based in part on the Doctrine of Discovery, one of the rare principles of American law that came not from English common law or from the pen of some Enlightenment philosopher but rather from the Vatican.”

In 2008, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers traveled to the Vatican to ask Pope Benedict XVI to rescind historic church doctrine—the Discovery Doctrine—that has encouraged the genocide of millions of indigenous people. Vatican police, however, claimed that the women were engaged in conducting anti-Catholic demonstrations.

In 2009, Onondaga Chief Oren Lyons asked Pope Benedict XVI to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery. While the Pope declined, thus indicating that this Doctrine continues as Church policy, the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery. The resolution called on the United States to review its historical and contemporary policies that contribute 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.

In 2010, “A Preliminary Study on the Doctrine of Discovery” was presented to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues by Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga). According to the study, the Doctrine of Discovery has been used to justify indigenous genocide and is one of the underlying reasons for the worldwide violations of the human rights of indigenous peoples. In 2012, the 11th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues discussed the Doctrine of Discovery.

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.

Christianity Comes to the Flathead Indians

During the 1830s, a major stir occurred among the missionary groups in North America when there were reports of the “savage” tribes from the interior who had come to St. Louis seeking Christianity. One of these tribes was the Flathead or Bitterroot Salish, a Salish-speaking tribe whose traditional territory included much of Western Montana. After they acquired the horse during the early 1700s, they began going east of the Rocky Mountains to hunt buffalo.

During the 1800s, the buffalo hunting area east of the Rocky Mountains on the Great Plains was claimed by a number of different tribes and there were often battles between them. The animosity between the Flathead and the Blackfoot was particularly intense and Blackfoot warriors were often successful in their raids on Flathead hunting parties.

In 1810, the North West Company established a trading post called Saleesh House in Flathead country on the Clark Fork River near present-day Thompson Falls in Montana. Fur trader David Thompson employed six Iroquois at Saleesh House to help him find bark for making canoes.

Following the establishment of Saleesh House, Nor’wester fur traders accompanied a hunting party of 150 Flathead across the Rocky Mountains through Marias Pass to hunt buffalo on the Plains. The hunting party was attacked by a party of 170 Piegan Blackfoot. The Flatheads won the battle, in part through the aid of the three traders who were traveling with them. The Flathead were armed with 20 guns obtained from the Nor’westers. They killed 7 of the Blackfoot and wounded 13 others. Among the Flathead, 5 were killed and 9 wounded. This was the first time in many years that the Flathead had won a battle against the Blackfoot.

The following year, the North West Company trading post Saleesh House was abandoned because of Blackfoot raids against the Flathead and fear of reprisals for the Nor’westers’ role in the battle against the Blackfoot.

In 1820, a group of about two dozen Christian Iroquois (Catholic Mohawk from Quebec) under the leadership of Old Ignace La Mousse came to live among the Flathead. The Iroquois worked for the Canadian fur traders and were to help establish fur trade and to show the Flathead how to trap.

The Iroquois preached their version of Christianity to the Flathead and taught them a number of Christian prayers and hymns. They told the Flathead about the great power of the Black Robes – the Jesuit Priests of the Catholic Church.

In 1831, some of the Flathead decided that the power of the Black Robes (Jesuits) could help them prevail over their enemies. The American Fur Company transported four Indians, including Silver Eagle and Running Bear, to St. Louis where they met with William Clark. Clark, of Lewis and Clark fame, had first made contact with the tribe when the Corps of Discovery had passed through their territory. While Clark was sympathetic to their request for missionaries, he was unable to find any Black Robes who were free to go to western Montana.

Two of the Flathead men died in St. Louis. The other two traveled part of the way home with the well-known American artist George Catlin who later reported that the Flathead had told him that the Jesuits had a superior religion and that they would be lost if they did not embrace it. The two remaining Flathead men died before returning home.

In 1834, Jason Lee, sent by the Methodist Missionary Board to establish a mission among the Flathead, met with the Flathead and Nez Perce at the Green River Rendezvous in Wyoming. He found the Indians deeply unsettling and concluded that the Indians were slaves to Satan and to alcohol. Instead of establishing an Indian mission, he continued his journey west to Fort Vancouver in Washington.

 In 1835, the Flathead still felt it would be good if they were to have a Black Robe live among them and share with them the great power of the Black Robes. Consequently, a second delegation of Flathead left Western Montana to travel to St. Louis, Missouri. The journey from Western Montana to Missouri was not an easy one for it meant that they had to pass through territories claimed by other tribes, such as the Crow and Lakota. Even though they were on a peaceful mission, it was easy to be mistaken for a war party and to invite attack by other tribes.

In St. Louis they asked for a Black Robe to be assigned to them. The delegation included Old Ignace, the Iroquois who first introduced the Flatheads to Catholicism. Historian Larry Cebula, in his book Plateau Indians and the Quest for Spiritual Power, 1700-1850, reports of Ignace:

“He was familiar with Catholicism and went straight to the cathedral to have his sons baptized. There he told the blackrobes that the Flatheads had sent him to St. Louis to request missionaries and that other Plateau groups, including the Spokans, Nez Perces, Cayuses, and Kutenais, wanted missionaries as well.”

In spite of the request, all available Jesuit manpower was committed to establishing a mission among the Kickapoos on the southern Plains and therefore there was no one available to be assigned to the Flathead.

In 1836, a party of four Flatheads left their Western Montana home for St. Louis to ask for the Blackrobes (Jesuits) to come to their people. This delegation was also lead by the Iroquois Old Ignace. The group was not heard from again. Indian agent Peter Ronan, in his 1890 book History of the Flathead Indians, reports:

“Whether killed while passing through the roaming places of their enemies or died of sickness or fatigue on their wearisome journey has never been known.”

In 1839, a fourth delegation of Flathead, including Peter Gaucher and Young Ignace, left Western Montana to journey to St. Louis. Upon reaching St. Louis, they met with Bishop Rosati. In their meeting with Bishop Rosati they extracted the promise that a priest would be sent to live with them.

In 1840 the Jesuits sent Father Pierre-Jean De Smet to live among the tribes of Western Montana. His first contact with them was at the Three Forks of the Missouri River where he was welcomed into a camp of Flathead and Pend d’Oreille. In his M.A. Thesis Religious Acculturation of the Flathead Indians, Richard Forbis reports:

“Like the Catholics of medieval Europe, De Smet wanted to make all aspects of life subservient to the Church and to Christianity.”

As a part of this assimilation, he wanted the Indians to become farmers.

Upon his arrival in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley in 1841, Father De Smet set about constructing St. Mary’s mission, baptizing children, and instructing the people in the ways of Catholic Christianity. He placed a large hand-hewn cross in the center of a circle. According to J. F. McAlear, in the book The Fabulous Flathead: The Story of the Development of Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation:

 “Following a short service by Father DeSmet, all the Indians, young and old, came forward and solemnly kissed the cross and declared an oath that they would never forsake the religion of the Black Gown.”

At least this was DeSmet’s interpretation of what happened. According to Indian agent Peter Ronan:

“On the 3d day of December, 1841, about one-third of the Flathead tribe were baptized into the Catholic faith, and the others who were under religious instructions were received into the fold on Christmas day of that same year.”

In his book Charlo’s People: The Flathead Tribe, Adolf Hungry Wolf reports:

“But after all their efforts to learn about the Catholic religion, the Flatheads were soon discouraged by the attitudes of the priests. The People wanted to add Catholicism to their own Ways of Life—not to exchange their Ways for the ways that the priests demanded.”

In 1846, the Small Robes band of Blackfoot were living among the Flathead and observed their great victory over the Crow. The Blackfoot felt that the reason for the victory was the great War Medicine of the Blackrobes (Jesuits). Consequently, they had Father De Smet baptize 80 of their children. Encouraged by this baptism, Father De Smet set out to find the main band of the Blackfoot so that he might: (1) establish peace between the Flathead and the Blackfoot, and (2) establish a permanent mission among the Blackfoot.

In a letter to a London supporter, Father De Smet described the Blackfoot:

“They are the most treacherous and wily set of savages among all the nations of the American desert, in whose words no reliance can be placed.”

By seeking to bring Christianity to the Blackfoot De Smet angered the Flatheads. According to Richard Forbis:

“Although De Smet had lived with the Flatheads for five years, he apparently did not appreciate the fact that the Indians were not particularly interested in the moral and non-material aspects of Christianity; they were primarily concerned with its protective powers.”

When the Flathead had become Christian they had become successful in repelling Blackfoot attacks. This success, according to the Flathead, was due to the superior power of the Black Robes and if this power were to be given to their enemies, they reasoned, they might be exterminated. De Smet’s promiscuous proselytizing – giving the power to their enemies – caused Flathead resentment and hostility toward the priests and toward Christianity.

When DeSmet returned to the Flathead he found that their attitude toward the Black Robes had changed. Now they openly challenged the Black Robes by publically gambling, an activity which the priests discouraged. According to historian Larry Cebula:

“One Flathead disrupted religious services and others practiced shamanism within the mission itself.”

In 1847, smallpox struck the Flathead shortly after the hunters left for the buffalo hunt. Eighty-six people died, leaving only fifteen children alive. In her M.A. Thesis Bighorn Sheep and the Salish World View: A Cultural Approach to the Landscape, Marcia Pablo Cross reports:

“The priests regard this as a sign of God’s displeasure with the Flatheads for so many of them turning away from the mission. The Salish could have viewed this incident as the priests withholding their good medicine.”

In 1850, the Jesuits closed their mission to the Flathead and sold the mission to a local trader. The trader turned it into Fort Owen which served as a trading post for the Bitterroot Valley. The Jesuits abandoned the mission because they had little protection from Blackfoot attacks. Indian agent Peter Ronan blamed the lack of Flathead protection for the mission on the traders:

“Those men—licentious, immoral and impure generally, who accept from the great fur companies of the west, situations as trappers, hunters, etc., lead wild and desolate lives, and in their career of debauchery among the simple natives, brooked no opposition, and looked with jealous eyes upon the missionaries’ teachings of Christianity and virtue, and in the councils of the Indians began to sow the seed of discontent against the missionaries for the new order of things, which deprived the Christianized Indian from as many wives as he chose to take and in prohibiting debauchery of the Indian women by those lewd camp followers.”

It should be pointed out that Ronan had been appointed Indian Agent for the Flathead Reservation by the Catholic Church under the U.S. government policy of requiring Indians to convert to Christianity.

In 1854, the Jesuits established St. Ignatius as a mission among the Pend d’Oreille, a Salish-speaking group north of the Flathead. The Jesuits hoped that this mission would encourage the Flathead to abandon their traditional home in the Bitterroot Valley and move north to resettle among the Salish-speaking Pend d’Oreille. The Jesuits were led to the site of the new mission by Chief Alexander.

Today many, if not most, of the Flathead are Catholic and participate in Catholic ceremonies. At the same time, many also practice some of the “old ways” and see no conflict between the two. Christianity provides them with additional power.

 

Christianity Comes to the Flathead Indians

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During the 1830s, a major stir occurred among the missionary groups in North America when there reports of the “savage” tribes from the interior who had come to St. Louis seeking Christianity. One of these tribes was the Flathead or Bitterroot Salish, a Salish-speaking tribe whose traditional territory included much of Western Montana. After they acquired the horse during the early 1700s, they began going east of the Rocky Mountains to hunt buffalo.

During the 1800s, this buffalo hunting area east of the Rocky Mountains on the Great Plains was claimed by a number of different tribes and there were often battles between them. The animosity between the Flathead and the Blackfoot was particularly intense and Blackfoot warriors were often successful in their raids on Flathead hunting parties.  

In 1820, a group of about two dozen Christian Iroquois (Catholic Mohawk from Quebec) under the leadership of Old Ignace La Mousse came to live among the Flathead. The Iroquois worked for the Canadian fur traders and were to help establish fur trade and to show the Flathead how to trap.

The Iroquois preached their version of Christianity to the Flathead and taught them a number of Christian prayers and hymns. They told the Flathead about the great power of the Black Robes – the Jesuit Priests of the Catholic Church.

In 1831, some of the Flathead decided that the power of the Black Robes (Jesuits) could help them prevail over their enemies. The American Fur Company transported four Indians, including Silver Eagle and Running Bear, to St. Louis where they met with William Clark. Clark, of  Lewis and Clark fame, had first made contact with the tribe when the Corps of Discovery had passed through their territory. While Clark was sympathetic to their request for missionaries, he was unable to find any Black Robes who were free to go to western Montana. All four of the Flathead men died on their return trip.

In 1835, the Flathead still felt it would be good if they were to have a Black Robe live among them and share with them the great power of the Black Robes. Consequently, a second delegation of Flathead left Western Montana to travel to St. Louis, Missouri.  The journey from Western Montana to Missouri was not an easy one for it meant that they had to pass through territories claimed by other tribes, such as the Crow and Lakota. Even though they were on a peaceful mission, it was easy to be mistaken for a war party and to invite attack by other tribes.

In St. Louis they asked for a Black Robe to be assigned to them. The delegation included Old Ignace, the Iroquois who first introduced the Flatheads to Catholicism. In spite of the request, all available Jesuit manpower was committed to establishing a mission among the Kickapoos on the southern Plains and therefore there was no one available to be assigned to the Flathead.

In 1837, a third Flathead delegation led by the Iroquois Old Ignace began another perilous journey east to seek a Black Robe. However, the delegation was attacked by the Lakota and all were killed.

In 1839, a fourth delegation of Flathead, including Peter Gaucher and Young Ignace, left Western Montana to journey to St. Louis. Upon reaching St. Louis, they met with Bishop Rosati. In their meeting with Bishop Rosati they extracted the promise that a priest would be sent to live with them.  

In 1840 the Jesuits sent Father Pierre-Jean De Smet to live among the tribes of Western Montana. His first contact with them was at the Three Forks of the Missouri River where he was welcomed into a camp of Flathead and Pend d’Oreille.

Upon his arrival in Western Montana’s Bitterroot Valley in 1841, Father De Smet set about constructing St. Mary’s mission, baptizing children, and instructing the people in the ways of Catholic Christianity. He placed a large hand-hewn cross in the center of a circle. Then he gave a short service and all the Indians present, young and old, came forward and solemnly kissed the cross and declared an oath that they would never forsake the religion of the Black Robes. At least this was his interpretation of what happened. DeSmet soon baptized about one-third of the tribe.

The Flathead seemed eager to accept the new religion, but did not see it as a replacement for their old religion. Rather, they saw it as an additional power. Thus the people soon came into conflict with the priests. The people did not want to give up their way of life as the priests demanded.

Five years later, De Smet managed to anger the Flathead. Father De Smet had decided to Christianize the Blackfoot, the mortal enemies of the Flathead. In spite of having lived with the Flathead for five years, De Smet did not understand the fact that the Flathead were not particularly interested in the moral and non-material aspects of Christianity. Instead, they were primarily concerned with its protective powers and its ability to help them overcome their enemies.

When the Flathead had become Christian they had become successful in repelling Blackfoot attacks. This success, according to the Flathead, was due to the superior power of the Black Robes and if this power were to be given to their enemies, they reasoned, they might be exterminated. De Smet’s promiscuous proselytizing – giving the power to their enemies – caused Flathead resentment and hostility toward the priests and toward Christianity.

The Small Robes band of Blackfoot had witnessed a battle in which the Flathead had vanquished the Crow. The Blackfoot felt that the reason for the victory was the great War Medicine of the Black Robes. Consequently, they had their children baptized. Encouraged by this Father De Smet set out to find the main band of the Blackfoot so that he might: (1) establish peace between the Flathead and the Blackfoot, and (2) establish a permanent mission among the Blackfoot.

When DeSmet returned to the Flathead he found that their attitude toward the Black Robes had changed. Now they openly challenged the Black Robes by publically gambling, an activity which the priests discouraged. In some instances, they disrupted the church services and they openly practiced shamanism.

Today many, if not most, of the Flathead are Catholic and participate in Catholic ceremonies. At the same time, many also practice some of the “old ways” and see no conflict between the two. Christianity provides them with additional power.  

Christianity Comes to the Nez Perce

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Christianity came to the Indian nations of the United States in a variety of ways. Sometimes a single non-Indian missionary was the vehicle, and sometimes it came from a variety of sources including Indian missionaries. In 1825, Governor George Simpson of the Hudson’s Bay Company was besieged by Indians in present-day Washington state seeking Christianity. At Fort Okanagon he spoke with a Thompson chief who asked for a missionary. A few days later, a delegation of Flathead, Spokan, and Kootenai asked for a missionary. This delegation was followed by two Nez Perce chiefs who were asking about Christianity.

Inspired by what he saw as an interest in Christianity, Governor Simpson conceived the idea of selecting some Indian boys from the Columbia River tribes and sending them east to be educated. His idea was that these boys could help in “civilizing” the tribes upon their return. Two teenage Indian boys – one from the Spokan in Washington and the other from the Kootenai in Idaho – were sent to the Red River School in Canada. The boys were renamed Kootenai Pelly and Spokan Garry.

In 1829, Spokan Garry and Kootenai Pelly returned to the northwest from the Red River School in Canada. Garry’s father, Illim-Spokanee, died while the boy was at school and so the Spokan greeted him as a leader’s son who should be heard on matters affecting the welfare of this people. Spokan Garry brought with him the Christianity which he learned in school and preached it to the tribes in eastern Washington. Soon after his return, Spokan Garry built a tule mat church and school along the Spokane River. He taught brotherly love, peaceful behavior, and humility.

The Spokan made Spokan Garry a chief and gave him two wives-one a Umatilla and the other a San Poil.

In 1830, the Hudson’s Bay Company sends two Nez Perce boys to the Anglican mission school at Red River, Manitoba for schooling. One of the boys, the son of war chief Red Grizzly, was given the name Ellice (also spell Ellis).

The following year, a group of Nez Perce from Idaho journeyed with an American fur trading party to St. Louis to seek further information about Christianity. The Nez Perce had been inspired by Spokan Garry and wanted to have their own copy of the “book.”  The Nez Perce delegation included Tipyahlanah (Eagle), Kipkip Pahlekin (Man of the Morning), Hi-yuts-to-henim (Rabbit Skin Leggings), and Tawis Geejumnin (No Horns on His Head). The two older Indians – Tipyahlanah and Kipkip Pahlekin – become ill, were baptized, and then were buried in a Catholic cemetery when they died.

On the return trip Tawis Geejumnin became sick and died near the present-day Montana-North Dakota border. Hi-yuts-to-henim returned safely to the Nez Perce.

The Nez Perce oral tradition conflicts with the Christian version of this journey. According to some oral histories, the purpose of the delegation was to acquire American technology and this was misunderstood in St. Louis.

In 1833, two Nez Perce young men-Pitt and Ellice-returned home from the Red River school in Canada. Pitt was the only Indian student from the Columbia River area sent to Red River who was not the son of a powerful chief. He had little impact on the beliefs of his people. Ellice, on the other hand, taught the people a simple form of Anglican beliefs.

In 1836, Marcus Whitman established a Presbyterian mission among the Cayuse in Oregon. The Whitmans were intolerant of Indian culture and beliefs. Like many other missionaries they fanatically demanded total conversion to Presbyterian ways. They tended to divide Indians into only two categories: the devout (meaning Protestant Christian) and the heathen. Tribal affiliation meant little to them.

At the same time, a Presbyterian mission was also established by Henry Spalding among the Nez Perce in Idaho. Spalding believed himself to be the savior to people who had no religion. He saw the Nez Perce as being misled by their spiritual leaders, whom he viewed as sorcerers.  He had little tolerance for the Nez Perce cultural beliefs and habits and often erupted into bursts of anger at them. Nez Perce elder Allen Slickpoo writes:

“Many of our elderly people have related stories about Spalding using Nez Perce labor without any compensation to perform hard chores except being told that they were ‘doing it for the Lord.’ Related stories were also told of Spalding tying a person to a flogging tree and giving him twenty lashes for being disobedient. To many of us this is an act of slavery, whether it was for ‘the Lord’ or not.”

The Presbyterian missionaries violently opposed and condemned the Catholics and most of the non-missionary trappers and traders in the area.

The Presbyterians introduced European medical practices, partially to discredit the Nez Perce medicine people and partially to ingratiate themselves with the people. With regard to religious practices, the missionaries included prayers, hymns, and instructional materials in the Nez Perce language.

There were often conflicts between the Nez Perce and the missionaries. In 1837, one of the missionaries ordered two Nez Perce leaders whipped. One of the leaders, Ellice, simply rode away with his people. The other leader, Blue Cloak, was seized and tied by a young Nez Perce. The missionary then ordered the Nez Perce to whip Blue Cloak saying:

“I stand in the place of God. I command. God does not whip. He commands.”

Two years later, a Nez Perce woman ran away from her American husband. The Protestant missionary ordered the woman to receive 70 lashes. This action upset the Nez Perce as they felt that the woman had the right to divorce her husband if she wanted. From the Nez Perce perspective, it was the husband who should have been whipped since he had abused his wife.  

Continuing “The Genocide of Matriarchal Societies”

( – promoted by navajo)

I wrote The Genocide of Matriarchal Societies in April of 2007, and there is some additional information I want to share along those general lines now. We’ll pick up where we left off and the answer to “Where Are All Your Women” will be made chillingly clear as to why they are “Missing In Action.” First however, we will reread the words of Archie Fire Lame Deer and relish in the scholarship of Barbara Alice Mann.

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Archie Fire Lame Deer had discovered enormous commonalties in terms of visual imagery between those in his father’s Yuwipi ceremonies and the visual imagery of the Black Madonna. Next, he learned that medicine men and Black Madonnas shared the same tragic fate.


..one last example of synchronicity is between the Lakota and a prehistoric cave in France. Archie Fire Lame tells briefly of his travels there with his daughter, while talking to a guide he described as a “spiritual man.”

Archie

Fire Lame Deer & Richard Erdoes. “Gift Of Power.” pp. 277-278.

I found the image of a buffalo carved out of the living rock with water from a sacred spring flowing from its mouth. While I was contemplating this, I heard (his daughter) holler, “Daddy, quick, come here!” – There revealed a face exactly like the one my father always used during his Yuwipi ceremonies –

Then our guide said, “All this goes back thousands of years before Christianity.” – (He) kept the image of a dark-skinned prophetess that nowadays is called the “Black Madonna.” He told me, “They called her and her sisters witches and burned them at the stake.”

“I know all about this,” I said. “They called our medicine men witch doctors and shot them dead for the same reasons.” He went on, “This here has survived. Few have been inside this cave. You have been chosen.”

Next, Barbara Alice Mann has made such valuable contributions in terms of outlining and defining the “Western obliteration of women from the record, (p. 129)” that I don’t think it can be retold too many times.


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…

Mann then proceeds to outline the methods of genocide and cultural genocide used to destroy “the level of political clout wielded by woodlands women.” She tells how the Spanish forced these women “to scalp their own sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers,” and then Mann outlines “pen – and – ink witchcraft.” “Pen – and – ink witchcraft” can be thought of as deliberately revising history. Mann continues to discuss how the “pen – and – ink witchcraft” was used in attempting to change the character and even the very gender of various entities in creation stories.

Mann ends with the following request, “We need the strong arms of our brothers reinforcing us in this effort.” While I’m not a scholar, this is the best I can do.  

Continuing “The Genocide of Matriarchal Societies”

( – promoted by navajo)

I wrote The Genocide of Matriarchal Societies in April of last year (2007), and there is some additional information I want to share along those general lines now. We’ll pick up where we left off and the answer to “Where Are All Your Women” will be made chillingly clear as to why they are “Missing In Action” after we recognize that a woman is set to be beheaded for “practicing witchcraft.” First however, we will reread the words of Archie Fire Lame Deer and relish in the scholarship of Barbara Alice Mann.

Photobucket

Archie Fire Lame Deer had discovered enormous commonalties in terms of visual imagery between those in his father’s Yuwipi ceremonies and the visual imagery of the Black Madonna. Next, he learned that medicine men and Black Madonnas shared the same tragic fate.


..one last example of synchronicity is between the Lakota and a prehistoric cave in France. Archie Fire Lame tells briefly of his travels there with his daughter, while talking to a guide he described as a “spiritual man.”

Archie

Fire Lame Deer & Richard Erdoes. “Gift Of Power.” pp. 277-278.

I found the image of a buffalo carved out of the living rock with water from a sacred spring flowing from its mouth. While I was contemplating this, I heard (his daughter) holler, “Daddy, quick, come here!” – There revealed a face exactly like the one my father always used during his Yuwipi ceremonies –

Then our guide said, “All this goes back thousands of years before Christianity.” – (He) kept the image of a dark-skinned prophetess that nowadays is called the “Black Madonna.” He told me, “They called her and her sisters witches and burned them at the stake.”

“I know all about this,” I said. “They called our medicine men witch doctors and shot them dead for the same reasons.” He went on, “This here has survived. Few have been inside this cave. You have been chosen.”

Next, Barbara Alice Mann has made such valuable contributions in terms of outlining and defining the “Western obliteration of women from the record, (p. 129)” that I don’t think it can be retold too many times.


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…

Mann then proceeds to outline the methods of genocide and cultural genocide used to destroy “the level of political clout wielded by woodlands women.” She tells how the Spanish forced these women “to scalp their own sons, husbands, fathers, and brothers,” and then Mann outlines “pen – and – ink witchcraft.” “Pen – and – ink witchcraft” can be thought of as deliberately revising history. Mann continues to discuss how the “pen – and – ink witchcraft” was used in attempting to change the character and even the very gender of various entities in creation stories.

Mann ends with the following request, “We need the strong arms of our brothers reinforcing us in this effort.” While I’m not a scholar, this is the best I can do in addition to helping spread the news about Stop(ping) Barbaric Execution of Saudi “Witch”! by Valtin. .


It is over 300 years since the famous Salem witchcraft trials, which ended in the hanging of over nineteen men and women at Gallows Hill. The last execution for so-called witchcraft in England was in 1684. The last woman put to death for the “crime” of sorcery was Anna Göldi, beheaded in Switzerland in 1782. The last execution for “sorcery” in Saudi Arabia was in… 2007!

Now its 2008, and staunch U.S. ally Saudi Arabia is about to do it again. Saudi law courts have sentenced Fawza Fahli for “witchcraft, recourse to jinn [supernatural beings], and slaughter of animals.” Held in Quraiyat Prison, she is to be beheaded…

Concluding, one end to studying about history is to not make the same mistakes again in my opinion.  Barbara Alice Mann and Archie Fire Lame Deer share their scholarship and their experiences out of generosity and wanting to make this world a better place. I think that’s a safe conclusion to draw. And making our world a better place necessitates not allowing this atrocious past to happen again, whether it’s in Saudi Arabia or because these forces

On the website of the National Reform Association one can actually find an artifact, by Daniel Lance Herrick, titled Table of Death Penalty Laws in the Pentateuch which, explains the article introduction, “is a sidebar for Why Execute Murderers? which was published in the May – June, 2000 issue of The Christian Statesman.”

Herrick’s article contains a series of grid boxes that delineate various offenses, per the Old Testament, that are described in the Old Testament as punishable by stoning to death. the “crimes” demanding communal stoning to death according to Herrick are:

• Idol Worship

• Witchcraft

• Blasphemy

• Cursing the Lord

• Violating the Sabbath

• Enticing to Idolatry

• Women who marry but are not virgins

• Adultery

were wholly underestimated.