The Theft of the Cherokee Outlet

In 1836, under the terms of the Treaty of New Echota, the Cherokee were given a narrow strip of land some 225 miles long and 60 miles wide in what would later become Oklahoma. This strip of land, known as the Cherokee Outlet, was in addition to their reservation and was intended to provide them with a perpetual outlet from their reservation to lands in the west for hunting. The area within the Outlet contained more than 8 million acres of land.

When the Civil War broke out, the United States withdrew its troops from Forts Cobb, Arbuckle, and Washita, leaving the Indians open to attacks from the Plains tribes and from non-Indians. In addition, the federal government, afraid that annuity payments might fall into the wrong hands, withheld the annuities which were owed to the tribes. These actions not only violated the removal treaties of the Indian nations in Indian Territory, they also undermined the credibility of the United States. The Confederacy moved into the vacuum left by the federal government and held treaty councils with the tribes.

The Civil War divided the Cherokee into two groups: the Ridge or Treaty Party led by Stand Watie and E. C. Boudinot, and the Ross or Non-Treaty Party led by John Ross. Ross issued a Proclamation of Neutrality with regard to the war.

Following the Civil War the United States, ignoring the fact that many Cherokees had supported the Union, imposed a new treaty on the Cherokee Nation. The new treaty allowed the United States to settle other Indian nations in the Cherokee Outlet and to dispose of the land. A number of tribes—Kaw, Osage, Pawnee, Ponca, and Tonkawa—settled in the area.

The Cherokee Outlet was invaded by Texas cattlemen who grazed their herds on Cherokee land while en route from Texas to the northern markets. The Cherokee government solved this problem by charging a per head fee for grazing privileges. In 1883, the Texas cattlemen formed the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association under the laws of Kansas. The Cherokee under the leadership of Dennis Bushyhead then leased the grassy meadows of the Cherokee Outlet to the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association for $100,000 for five years. The agreement was felt to beneficial for both the Cherokee and for the cattlemen. Soon after the lease was signed, dissident Cherokee, angry at being denied free use of the Outlet, claimed that the Association had gained exclusive use of the area through illegal means. Complaints concerning bribery and corruption were lodged with the Department of the Interior.

When the lease with the cattlemen expired in 1888, the Cherokee agreed to renew the lease of the Cherokee Strip Live Stock Association for the exclusive use of the Cherokee Outlet for $200,000 per year. The federal government, however, warned the Cherokee that they would consider the lease to be invalid.

In 1889, President Benjamin Harrison announced that no livestock would be grazed in the area known as the Cherokee Outlet in Indian Territory. This move deprived the Cherokee Nation of a substantial part of its operating budget and brought an end to their lease with the Cherokee Live Stock Association. The move was part of a government effort to get the Cherokee to sell this land.

In 1890, President Benjamin Harrison closed Cherokee Outlet to the cattle growers who were legally leasing the lands from the Cherokee. Federal troops then occupied the area and forcibly removed the cattle growers and their herds from the land. Having lost the major source of revenue for their schools and government, the Cherokee were forced to cede the Outlet lands. The government forced the Cherokee to sell their Outlet lands for $1.25 per acre (a total of $10.2 million).

In 1893, the Cherokee Outlet was opened to non-Indian settlement, resulting in Oklahoma’s largest land run. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people attempted to stake out claims for the land.

In 1948, the Cherokee filed suit before the Indian Claims Commission to recover the real value of the Cherokee Outlet lands. One expert from Oklahoma State University testified that the land had been worth $10.01 per acre at the time it was taken by the government. Experts testifying on behalf of the government claimed it was worth $1.70 per acre. The courts awarded the Cherokee an additional $14.7 million for the lands. The Indian Claims Commission noted that the conduct in the original transaction had been unconscionable.

Cherokee Treaty Claims

By 1830, the American government had decided that American Indians had no place in the United States and passed legislation calling for their removal to lands west of the Mississippi River. As a part of this removal effort, the Americans negotiated a series of treaties with the various Indian nations in which the Indians ceded their lands and were given new lands in the west.

In 1835, the United States presented the Cherokee with a new treaty. The deal that the United States offered the Cherokee was simple: they could sign the treaty and move west, or the military would come in and they would be marched west at bayonet point. In either case, the Cherokee would have to abandon their ancient homelands, their farms, and the graves of their ancestors.

A few Cherokee leaders – primarily Major Ridge, John Ridge, Elias Boudinot, Andrew Ross, James Starr, Stand Watie, James Rogers, Archilla Smith, John A. Bell, Charles Foreman, George W. Adair, and Thomas Watie– signed the Treaty of New Echota in Georgia. None of those signing the treaty had been authorized by the Cherokee Nation to sign it. The signers would become known as the Treaty Party. Upon signing the treaty, Major Ridge said: “I have signed my death warrant” in reference to the Cherokee law which called for the death penalty for those who sold Cherokee land without the consent of the National Council.

Under the terms of this treaty, the Cherokee were to give up all of their lands east of the Mississippi and to move to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Cherokee Principal Chief John Ross repudiated the treaty because it was signed by a minority of the Cherokee leaders. However, the notice which had been sent to the Cherokee notifying them of the treaty council indicated that those leaders not in attendance would be considered to approve any document signed by the negotiators.

Most historians today view the Treaty of New Echota as a fraud. Cherokee historian Robert Conley, in his book The Cherokee Nation: A History writes:  “The entire procedure was illegal, but it was what the United States government wanted, and it was accepted by the U.S. Congress as legal and binding on the entire Cherokee Nation.”

In the treaty negotiations, the Cherokee were assured that the United States would respect the Nation’s right to self-government and that the Cherokee would never be included in any state or new territory without the consent of the Cherokee people. The Americans promised the Cherokee that they would respect Cherokee borders and they would remove all unwanted American intruders.

Under the terms of the treaty, the United States promised to pay the Cherokee $5 million.

As soon as the new treaty was ratified by the Senate, President Andrew Jackson issued a proclamation that the United States no longer recognized the existence of any government among the Cherokee in the Southeast. Furthermore, the Cherokee were warned that any resistance to removal would be met by force through the army.

Ten years after the treaty had been signed and ratified by the Senate, the Cherokee had still not been paid. In 1845, the Cherokee sent a delegation to Washington, D.C. to secure an adjustment of the claims and other unsettled business of the nation. The delegation, under the leadership of John Ross, included Richard Tayler,  John Looney, Aaron Price, David Vann, Joseph Spears, and Thigh Walker. The tribe was owed $5 million as a part of the Treaty of New Echota. Brian Hicks in his book Toward the Setting Sun: John Ross, the Cherokees, and  the Trail of Tears, writes:  “The United States government refused to live up to its end of the bargain, officials inventing any number of excuses. Some refused to recognize the tribe as long as Ross was chief.”

In 1846, the United States negotiated a new treaty with the Cherokee. All of the Western Cherokee groups—the Old Settlers, the Treaty Party, and the National Party—as well as the Eastern Cherokee were present for the treaty signing. Under the new treaty, the United States promised to reimburse the Cherokee Nation for sums which were unfairly deducted by the United States from their payment for their eastern lands. According to some accounts, the rivals Stand Watie of the Treaty Party and John Ross of the National Party shook hands at the end of the signing. Other accounts claim that this is just a legend stemming from wishful thinking.

The new treaty also declared that Cherokee lands in Oklahoma were to be for the use and occupancy of all Cherokee. The treaty guaranteed every Cherokee accused of a crime the right to a trial by jury.

Grace Steele Woodward, in her book The Cherokees, writes:  “After the Treaty of 1846 the Cherokee Nation enjoyed a golden era of prosperity and progress unsurpassed by its territorial neighbors. In the era that followed the treaty, education, building projects (both private and public), churches and missions, improvement societies, agriculture, domestic arts, and animal husbandry thrived in the Nation.”

With regard to the Eastern Cherokee, the new 1846 treaty upheld the rights of the Cherokee who had remained east of the Mississippi.

 

The Cherokee Civil War, 1842 to 1843

After their removal to Oklahoma in 1838, the hostile rivalry between two Cherokee political factions—the National Party which had resisted removal and the Treaty Party which had favored removal—became violent. In 1842, James Foreman, a member of the National Party, and Stand Watie, a member of the Treaty Party, encountered each other in a grocery store. Watie accused Foreman of killing his uncle, Major Ridge. The argument quickly grew physical and Watie killed Foreman.

Following the incident, groups of armed men from both factions began to assemble. There were rumors that an outbreak of civil war within the Cherokee Nation was imminent and that Foreman’s death had been a part of a larger conspiracy in which others were marked for assassination. The American Indian agent met with the Cherokee near the grocery store. During the course of his investigation, the agent had found that the rumors of a conspiracy were without foundation. The agent urged Foreman’s friends and the members of the National Party to allow the law to take its course. Instead of seeking revenge, he urged them to allow Watie to face trial.

Stand Watie was concerned that he would be tried in a Cherokee Court. Since John Ross, the leader of the National Party, was the principal chief, and the Cherokee government seemed to be biased toward the National Party, Watie did not feel that a fair trial in a Cherokee court would be possible. However, since the incident occurred in Arkansas, outside of the Cherokee Nation, he was tried in Arkansas.

At the trial, James Foreman was described as a violent man. Witnesses testified that Foreman had come into the store expecting trouble while Watie had not. The jury debated for about five minutes and Watie was acquitted on a plea of self-defense. The attacks were seen as a renewal of a Cherokee feud and armed guards gathered for the protection of the National Party adherents. The killing of James Foreman and the acquittal of Stand Watie were seen by many as another step in the escalation of violence among the Cherokee.

The following year, the violence escalated when a group of Treaty Party men, under the leadership of George West, attacked and killed Isaac Bushyhead, a member of the National Party. The murderers then escaped into Arkansas where they would be out of reach of Cherokee tribal justice.

Violence against the National Party continued. In separate attacks, David Vann was attacked and beaten with clubs, but was carried off to safety by friends. Judge Elijah Hicks was forewarned about the attack and escaped. Many of the Treaty Party people, fearing retaliation, fled from the Cherokee nation, leaving most of their personal goods behind.

There were rumors that Chief John Ross was going to be assassinated and so the Cherokee General Council posted several dozen Cherokees around his home. While the warriors guarded his home for several weeks, there was no attempt on his life.

The animosity between the two factions continued to simmer, with occasional outbreaks of violence for another couple of decades.

A Cherokee Murder

Following the Trail of Tears in 1838, there were three groups of Cherokee living in Oklahoma: (1) The Old Settlers who had moved to the west prior to the 1830 Indian Removal Act, (2) the Treaty Party who had signed the removal treaty and had been moved in relative comfort, and (3) the National Party who had been forcibly removed by the military. In Oklahoma, the Cherokee came together under a new constitution. The first challenge to this new constitution came in 1840.

In 1840, Archilla Smith, a member of the Cherokee Treaty Party, got into a frivolous dispute with John MacIntosh. In his anger, Smith stabbed MacIntosh to death. Under the new Cherokee Constitution, Smith was arrested and tried for murder.

Stand Watie, another prominent member of the Treaty Party, was the counsel for the defense. Watie pointed out that there was no real evidence that Smith had actually done the killing. He argued that the government’s witnesses had been inconsistent in their testimony. In addition, Watie argues that if Smith had indeed killed MacIntosh, then the death should be considered self-defense rather than murder. He pointed out that MacIntosh had provoked Smith and, given the violence of the times, MacIntosh had been killed in self-defense. Watie asked the jury to find Smith not guilty.

Watie’s words did not convince the jury. Smith was found guilty and sentenced to be hung. A petition for pardon was presented to Chief John Ross with “a desire that peace and harmony prevail.” With the tensions among the various factions in Cherokee society at the time, the petitioners implied that hanging Smith would lead to more violence.

Ross did not respond to the request and Smith was hung. Later some people would claim that Ross had ignored the petition because of his animosity against Watie. Ross was the leader of the National Party and Watie was one of the leaders of the Treaty Party. Forced to defend his actions, or, rather non-action, Ross would claim that the Cherokee chief had no power to grant pardons which would undo the will of the court.

As a result of this trial, many members of the Treaty Party faction were skeptical about the impartiality of the Cherokee government and its courts.

The Cherokee After Removal

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, many prominent and influential Americans, particularly those from the southern states, had decided that the United States should not contain any Indians. Pretending that their primary concern was the “protection” of the Indians, they pressured Indians to move across the Mississippi River using open threats and harassment. In response some Cherokees began moving from their homelands in Georgia and Tennessee to the Southern Great Plains. When it became apparent that most Indians would not move voluntarily, the United States passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. Under the legal authority of this Act, in 1838-1839, the United States military forcibly and brutally force-marched thousands of Cherokee to their new home in what would become Oklahoma.

Upon their arrival in Oklahoma in 1839, some 13,000 Cherokee immigrants were to be issued subsistence rations by a government contractor. The government contractor, however, had little interest in Cherokee welfare and focused instead on enhancing profits with the government contract. The flour and meal which was provided to the new arrivals following their forced march was infested with weevils. Realizing that no-one in the government cared about these Indians, the contractors seized the opportunity to get rid of cattle which would be otherwise unsalable while charging the government for prime beef. Cherokee chief John Ross called the meat “poor and unhealthy.” When his complaints received no response, he purchased rations for the people from another private contractor.

In Oklahoma, the Cherokees faced the task of forming a new government. Three different groups were involved: (1) the Treaty Party which had the support of the Old Settlers and the planters, (2) the National Party which had the loyalties of two-thirds of the Cherokee population and was loyal to principal chief John Ross, and (3) the Keetoowah Society which had been formed prior to removal to prevent removal and considered itself to be a sacred institution rather than a political institution. American officials generally worked to discredit John Ross and the National Party as they viewed the Treaty Party as true patriots. The American officials generally portrayed Chief John Ross as a villain and the recent arrivals as “savages.”

John Brown, the first chief of the Western Cherokee, declared that the Eastern Cherokee had accepted the hospitality of the Western Cherokee and therefore they should live under the Western Cherokee government. However, John Ross argued for the continuation of the eastern Cherokee government. The Cherokee Nation—that is, the eastern Cherokee—had a written constitution and they had a far more elaborate law code than the Western Cherokee. The eastern Cherokee also constituted a major of the Cherokees in Oklahoma.

A constitutional convention was held and was presided over by Sequoyah, an Old Settler. Sequoyah and Jesse Bushyhead (an eastern Cherokee Baptist minister) worked out a compromise. The convention passed an Act of Union which was intended to unify the nation. The Old Settlers were guaranteed one-third of the seats in the new legislative body.

In the formation of the new government, John Ross was selected as principal chief; Joseph Vann, an Old Settler, was selected as second chief; and Young Wolf, an Old Settler, was chosen as speaker of the National Council. The Act of Union established the laws by which the Cherokees could live in harmony among themselves and deal with the American government which was threatening not only their traditional way of life, but their very existence.

In the Act of Union, the Cherokees made reference to inalienable rights and stated that each Cherokee had specific God-given rights. Since the Cherokee had the same God as that of the United States, this meant that the Cherokees should have the same political standing as other Americans. However, President James Polk stated:

“The Cherokees have been regarded as among the most enlightened of the Indian tribes; but experience has proved that they have not yet advanced to such a state of civilization as to dispense with the guardian care and control of the government of the United States.”

While American officials attempted to oust John Ross from the government, the United States did recognize the Act of Union as the Cherokee constitution.

The Act of Union did not bring about harmony or union. The animosities that divided the Cherokees continued. A group of 100 to 150 Cherokees associated with the National Party met in secret to discuss what to do about the Treaty Party. They felt that the men who signed the Treaty of New Echota were traitors and should be executed. They drew up a list of those who were to be killed and then drew straws to determine who would do each killing. John Ross did not attend the meeting.

The first to be killed was Elias Boudinot, the first editor of the Cherokee Phoenix, as the law of blood revenge was revived. Two other leaders of the Treaty Party, Major Ridge and John Ridge, were also murdered. Stand Watie managed to escape assassination. As signers of the Treaty of New Echota, all of these leaders were in violation of Cherokee law and the penalty for this violation was death. In one day, the prominent leaders of the Treaty Party were eliminated. These actions increased the friction between the two main Cherokee groups as those who had committed the murders now became targets of revenge.

The Council of the Cherokee Nation met shortly after the murders and declared that the three men had been outlaws since they had signed the removal treaty. The Council thus decreed that the killings were legal executions.

Stand Watie, distraught over the murders of his brother, uncle, and cousin, vowed revenge and began to raise a militia to kill John Ross.

The Secretary of War (who was in charge of Indian Affairs at this time), after listening to members of the Treaty Party, declared that the legitimate government of the Old Settlers had been illegally overthrown by Ross and the National Party. The American government demanded the arrest of those who had murdered the Treaty Party leaders. The American government refused to pay Cherokee annuities to the Ross government.

The divisions among the Cherokees continued to disrupt the peace and harmony of the nation for more than a generation.

Ancient America: Oklahoma

What is now the state of Oklahoma became the new home to many Indian nations during the nineteenth century when the American government forcibly removed these nations from their homelands. However, Oklahoma’s Indian history goes much farther back in time. For thousands of years prior to the European invasion of North America, Native people lived, hunted, farmed, and built their homes and villages in what would become Oklahoma.  

Climate Change:

Climate change has often impacted the human habitation in the Great Plains in general and in the Oklahoma area in particular. At about 6000 BCE, the period which archaeologists call the Archaic Period (also called the Middle Pre-contact Period by some archaeologists) began. At this time there was a climatic change and many large mammals became extinct. The climate became drier and warmer. As the bison deserted the Plains in favor of stream valleys and/or foothill areas, the Native people followed them. During this time, Indian people developed a greater reliance on plant foods, especially small seeds. They also increased hunting of smaller animals, although deer, mountain sheep, and bison continued to be important.

A thousand years later, about 5000 BCE, the Great Plains began to enter into a climate period known as the Altithermal which was a hot, dry episode that lasted for about 2,500 years. During this time, the bison had to shift their ranges and subsequently Indian people either moved with them or changed to other game. During this time, there were relatively few bands of Indians living in the area.

About 2500 BCE, the Medithermal period began with temperatures declining to modern levels. This climate period was marked by a return to cooler temperatures and a reduction in the number, intensity, and duration of drought periods. During this time, there is a gradual westward and southward return of the grasslands which means that the grasslands could support year-round grazing. As the buffalo returned to the Plains, so did the Indian people.

Stone Tools:

Stone tools are a frequent and important part of the archaeological record. Part of the reason for this is that stone survives long after other types of material culture-such as cloth, wood, fiber-have disappeared. The ancient past of Oklahoma includes many different kinds of stone tools, particularly spear points and, later, arrow heads. Many of these points have distinctive shapes and characteristics which make them easy to identify.

By 7500 BCE, Indian people were making a style of spear point with broad, shallow side-notches and an expanded base called Breckenridge by archaeologists. This point is also used as a knife. This type of point was used not only in Oklahoma, but also in Missouri and Arkansas.

At this same time, in a region to the south and west which includes New Mexico and Texas as well as Oklahoma, Indian people were using Milnesand points. These were medium-sized lanceolate dart points with convex sides and a straight basal edge.

By 6900 BCE, Indian people in Oklahoma were using a small dart point with a blade that was straight to slightly convex. Archaeologists designate this as the Palmer point. The basal edge was straight and smoothed by grinding. This type of point was also used in parts of Arkansas and Texas.

A style of point called Calf Creek by archaeologists was being used by 4000 BCE. This medium-sized point had convex sides and basal notches. Some had serrated edges and appear to be used as knives. In addition to being used by the Indian people in Oklahoma, it was also used in Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas.

About this same time, Indian people in Oklahoma were using Williams points which were medium-sized dart points with convex sides, broad corner notches, a convex basal edge, and an acute needle-like point. This style of point was also used in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois.

By 3500 BCE, Indian people were now making and using a stone point known as Afton. The point was corner-notched and had a short, expanded stem. The points were usually thin and well-made. Indian people in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas were using Afton points.

Refugio points appear in Texas and Oklahoma by 2000 BCE. These were large ovoid points which were used as dart points and as knives.

By 1000 BCE, archaeologists can associate some stone tool types with specific tribal groups. At this time, the Caddo were using Gary points. These points were a small to medium-sized dart point with straight, concave, or recurved stems. This point was also used as a knife.

Edgewood points begin appearing in Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas about 500 BCE. Edgewood points were small dart points with an expanded stem and short barbs. At this same time, in north-central Texas and southern Oklahoma, Indian people were using Godley points. These were small dart points with corner-notches. In Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, Indian people were using a corner-notched arrow point which archaeologists call Scallorn.

By 700 CE, the Caddo were making a small arrow point with a narrow rectangular stem which archaeologists call Bonham.

By 900 CE, the Caddo began making an arrow point with triangular to recurved blades and parallel-sided to bulbous or fan-shaped stems. Some of the points were finely serrated or have needle-like tips. Archaeologists will later refer to these as Alba points.

At this same time, the Caddo were using a small arrow point which archaeologists call Hayes. The point had recurved sides, barbs, and a dovetail shaped stem. They were also using a small, triangular arrow point which archaeologists call Morris. The point had straight sides, side-notches, and a basal notch.

Washita points appear about 1100 CE in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas. These were small, triangular arrow points with side notches.

About 1200 CE, the Caddo were using Howard points. These arrow points had 4 to 12 deep serrations on the edge of the blade. At this same time, the Caddo were also making and using Haskell points. These were small, side-notched arrow points.

At this same time, the Caddo were making a small, ovoid arrow point with side notches which archaeologists call Keota.

By about 1400 CE, the Quapaw were using Nodena points. These were small, willow leaf-shaped arrow points with convex sides and a rounded base.

At this same time, the Caddo were making Fresno points. These were thin, slender, triangular arrow points.

The Mammoth Hunters and Buffalo Hunters:

By the time Europeans were first entering what was to become Oklahoma, the Native peoples had been harvesting herd animals, primarily the American bison (commonly called buffalo), for thousands of years.

There are early, and controversial, indications the Indian people may have been hunting an ancient buffalo (bison latifrons) as early as 38,000 BCE. Some of the stone points left at the Burnham Site are from Edwards Chert which is found in Central Texas. This suggested either a wide migratory range or extensive trade networks.

In Farra Canyon, Oklahoma, Indian people were hunting mammoths as well as other mammals by 9550 BCE. The canyon appears to have been occupied only for short periods of time.

In 8900 BCE, Indian buffalo hunters painted a zigzag line on a buffalo skull and carefully placed it at the entrance to a kill site.

By 8500 BCE, Indian people were using the Jake Bluff site (34HP60) for killing buffalo (a sub-species of Bison antiques). The site is located on a small hill bordering the Beaver River. At least 22 bison were killed here. The site was used from mid-August to October. Butchering was carried out at another site on the west bench of the arroyo.

In addition to bison, the hunters also killed a bear. At some point during the butchering, a black bear came into the area and was killed and butchered. The bear was probably attracted to the area by the smell of the dead bison.

Most of the projectile points were made from Alibates chert which came from an area about 200 kilometers (120 miles) to the south and west.

Agriculture:

About 1500 years ago, there was the beginning of a major change: agriculture, more specifically corn (maize) agriculture, begins to appear. This brings some major changes in the Native cultures of the area.

By 750, the Indian people at the Toltec site were using corn in ritual feasting. The archaeological evidence suggests that corn was being grown initially for ritual use rather than general subsistence purposes.

By 800, the territory occupied by the Caddo included portions of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Louisiana. While their settlements centered in the Red River Valley, they also extended into the western Ozarks as well as into east Texas and central Arkansas.

About this same time, Indian people began to establish permanent villages in the Washita and Canadian River Valleys. The villages were small: 3 to 10 houses. The houses were rectangular with grass thatch coverings. The exterior frame was made of poles. The roof was supported with four center poles. The people were making a variety of pottery styles.  Archaeologists will later call this the Paoli Phase.

About 900, Mississippian people established the village of Spiro which would grow into a major trade center. Mississippian culture is associated with the city of Cahokia in present-day Illinois.

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Shown above are some of the artifacts from Spiro.

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Shown above is a reconstructed house from the Spiro site.

By 1100, trade at the Spiro site in the Arkansas River Valley intensified. At this time, populations in the Central Mississippi Valley had outstripped the local environment’s ability to provide them with needed resources. Therefore people began moving into new areas.

There appear to be some connections between Mexican civilizations and Spiro: archaeologist have determined that an obsidian scraper from Spiro originated in Pachuca, Hidalgo, in central Mexico.

In 1250, Indian people established a fortified village on the North Fork of the Red River. Their economy was based on farming and hunting.

In 1265, the Zimms site was occupied by Indian people. During this time, people were living in small villages which were situated on high terraces above tributary streams. Their houses tended to be square or rectangular with a central hearth and two central support posts. The walls were plastered. The economy was based on hunting and gathering – bison, deer, cottontail, prairie dog, box turtle, and birds – and was supplemented with some farming.

In 1300, Spiro was now the principal town in the Caddoan region. The burials at Spiro show that important people were interred with treasures of pearls and ocean-shell beads, red pipestone effigy pipes, carvings, repoussé copper plates probably ornamenting headdresses, stone ceremonial axes, bundles of delicately chipped flint-tipped arrows, ceramic pots from all over the Southeast. Archaeologists have also found fragments of what may have been finely-woven cloaks, some with feathers twined into the cloth.

In 1450, the economy of the villages on the North Fork of the Red River changed. While farming continued to be important, there was a greater emphasis on buffalo hunting and on trade with the Pueblos in New Mexico. From the Pueblo people they acquired polychrome glaze pottery, turquoise, and obsidian.

Lost Identity

I was born in Hampton, Virginia. I lived in Newport News, Virginia until the age of seven. My story starts as a young child with horrible night terrors. My dreams have always played a large role in my life. I remember playing long hours then laying down on my couch and just going into a deep meditation. I remember it clearly. Everything was black, except for lines of color, mostly greens and pink swirling. I remember at the age of four going into one of these deep trances and trying to “remember who I am”. Trying to remember..life before my birth.

Aside from that, I remember the night terrors. Dark, evil dreams that to this day disturb me. My Mother tried everything. Painting a cat on my bed to “watch over me”. When that failed they purchased a new bed. Finally, my Grandfather told my Mom that she should make a dream catcher with me. You see, my Grandfather was part Cherokee and French. Except, he tried to hold on to as much Cherokee culture as he can.

The dream catcher was the only thing that worked. I remember one dream in particular. I was standing in a dark catacomb. Terrified. Then a monk entered the doorway and told me “remember you are asleep”. I was age four. Ever since then, I have been able to lucid dream. I believe that “monk” was my spirit guide.

I also believe that the location of my birth and early childhood was no coincidence. Growing up there. Jamestown and the surrounding cities on the James River. I remember learning about it and going on field trips in school. I wore my moccasins that my family got while visiting Oklahoma. (I got to feed a black bear in a cage, I remember loving on him and feeling sad that he was pinned up. I remember looking into his eyes and my Mothers fear to let me close. I had no fear though.)

Anyways, I learned about Jamestown when I was in school, age 6. I learned about my own heritage, Cherokee, English, French and Irish. I remember being filled with anger. I remember my love for nature and for animals.

My entire life people have caught me speaking to animals, mostly my cats, and they tell me “Becky, it’s JUST a cat”. I’ve always been angered about that. How people look at non-human beings as if they are things and not sacred life forms. I look into the eyes of an animal, and I see a being that is on a higher plane than we are.

This post is really jumbled. But there are so many things that have always circled my mind. Our mandalas and art depicting the Trail of Tears hangs in my families den….yet….they’ve become nothing but decoration. Many nights, when everyone is asleep, I go into the den and look at the mandalas and art. I think what they mean. I think about my Grandfather. His gift with plants. And his silent but obvious clinging to that side of our ancestry.

I have looked up my ancestry on my Fathers side. Apparently, Norweigan Vikings that settled in England. One of my ancestors, William Jarrett, was the man who helped John Smith with the plans on how to revive the Jamestown colony. Except, he was a pirate. So no credit went to my family lol. Except when they took land in Virginia and named it “Jarratt Virginia”.

My Father says that he has no Native American blood. I don’t think that is correct. Reading the stories of our ancestors, they were highly involved in the first settlements of Virginia. It would be nearly impossible if they did not mix with Powhatan. However, it’s highly probable that they did but it is forgotten as most Native American heritage, culture and identity have been forgotten.

Killed off.

Blotted out.

Erased from history.

Except that it lingers in the DNA of many people who have found themselves connected to the land, the plants, the animals and a great mystery that lingers within them, even from a very early age.  

Ancient America: The Southern Plains Villagers

Southern Plains Villagers is a culture that occupied the Southern Plains from 800 CE to 1500 CE. These Indian people had agricultural economy which they supplemented by hunting and gathering wild plants. With regard to hunting, the bison was an important animal and was also important in the religious life of the people. Overall, the Southern Plains Villagers had a rich and varied subsistence base.  

The Southern Plains Village sites were relatively small, ranging from a half an acre to as large as four acres. They were usually located on major streams or tributaries. These were sites where the fertile sand-loam soils were well-suited to their corn-based agriculture.

Several small communities would often be clustered fairly close together which suggests a rural community composed of several family groups. In some instances, a larger site would serve as the central community for a number of smaller sites which would be located up and down the river valley.

Southern Plains Village houses tended to be square or rectangular made with central support posts. Upright logs placed in postholes were used to form the walls. The walls of the houses were plastered. The houses were roofed with grass thatch. Houses averaged 23 feet long by 14 feet wide.

The Southern Plains Villagers made flaked stone tools from both locally available materials and from materials which had been traded through some distance. They are using arrowheads which archaeologists classify as Fresno, Washita, Ellis, and Edgewood types.

The Plains villagers used a variety of ground stone tools, including grinding stones. They also used different types of abrading stones. The sandstone abraders which they used were similar to graded sandpaper. They would be used in making bone tools. Coarse abraders would be used for the initial or rough out work. Then the toolmaker would switch to the medium abraders for intermediate steps.  Finally they would use the fine grade for finishing work or re-sharpening.

Using stone tools for grinding corn and plant seeds meant that there was a large amount of grit in the food. This resulted in tooth wear.

The Southern Plains Village people also made pottery. Some of the pottery was made using a limestone temper while some was made using a shell temper. In general, the pots were made for everyday use and tend to have little or no decoration. In addition to pots and bowls, they also made pipes and figurines from clay. The clay figurines were used in fertility ceremonies and the clay pipes were used in tobacco smoking ceremonies.

Custer Pottery

Shown above is an example of Custer Phase Pottery (800 to 1250 CE) from Oklahoma.

Washita Pottery

Shown above is an example of Washita River Pottery (1250 to 1450 CE) from Oklahoma. Both of the photos above are from the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey files.

http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/D/…

The Plains Village people used cache pits for storage. These were dug into the ground to a depth of about 4 feet and they were slightly more than 3 feet in diameter.

During the Turkey Creek Phase (1250 to 1450) in Oklahoma, there were trading networks which connected the Southern Plains Villages to the Pueblo villages in the west and the Caddoan groups to the east and northeast.

About 1500 CE, the Southern Villagers appear to have abandoned their heartland and become more dispersed. In some areas of the Southern Plains, the number of sites decreases and there is a substantial increase in the size of the remaining villages. It is possible that climatic conditions forced the people to move eastward where water supplies were more reliable. Some of the Southern Villagers were the ancestors of the historic Wichita. Intrusive groups, such as the Kiowa, began to appear at this time.  

The Indian Journal

The media has never been fair and balanced when it comes to serving Indian people and reporting on events which impact Indian lives. Many Indian leaders have felt that it is critical for Indians to have media which they control. One example of Indian media can be seen in The Indian Journal, a newspaper born in Indian Territory (later known as Oklahoma).  

In 1876, Cherokee leader William Potter Ross began publication of the Indian Journal at Muskogee, Indian Territory. However, a fire broke out and the new business was soon on the brink of going under.

The following year, a group of businessmen, including several prominent Creek (David Benson, James McHenry, Joseph M. Perryman, N.B. Moore, John R. Moore, David M. Hodge, Ward Coachman, G.W. Stidham, James McDermott Coody, W.F. Crabtree, D.B. Whitlow, William Fish, David Carr, and Pleasant Porter), purchased the newspaper Indian Journal from William Potter Ross and moved it to Eufaula, Indian Territory.

Under the new owners, the Indian Journal became the public voice in the Creek Nation. The newspaper spoke for the Creek nationalists who believed that some adaptation of Anglo-American ways was necessary to protect Creek sovereignty. From the beginning, the Indian Journal was viewed as an Indian institution which was more concerned with protecting Indian rights than in making a profit.

While the Indian Journal was chartered by the Creek Nation and served as its official organ, the investors hoped that the paper would reflect the actual interests of all Indian people in the territory. Creek Principal Chief Ward Coachman wrote:

“It is absolutely necessary for the Indian race in order to protect their interests, and make known their rights, to have some medium through which to express themselves to the thinking and reading portion of the citizens of the United States.”

Ideals, however, often require money and the Indian Journal, while it was an Indian voice, did not generate enough money to keep it going. In 1878,  the struggling Indian Journal was purchased by its non-Indian editor, Myron P. Roberts.

In 1887, Creek businessman George Washington Grayson led a company of stockholders to purchase the Indian Journal Printing Company which published the Indian Journal. Many Creek were literate in Muskogee and so the Indian Journal now published articles in both Muskogee and English.

In 1902, Creek writer Alex Posey bought the Indian Journal, a weekly newspaper in Eufalia.  At this time, the paper consisted of four pages of local and regional news and four pages of fillers. Through the vehicle of the Indian Journal Posey promoted his ideas of social, political, and economic progress in the Indian Territory, particularly the Creek Nation.

Alex Posey was first of all a writer and a poet rather than a journalist. As a result, he brought a freshness to his news reporting that soon won the respect of other journalists. His literary skills often made seemingly insignificant events and local news both interesting and exciting, even to those outside of Indian Territory.  

Posey also bought the Eufalia Gazette and merged it with the Indian Journal.  

In 1903, Alex Posey attempt to expand his reach by launching the Daily Indian Journal which came out each afternoon. He also continued to publish the Indian Journal as a weekly newspaper on Fridays. Shortly after starting this new venture, Posey sold the Indian Journal and entered into a joint venture to publish the Muskogee Times, a daily newspaper. Posey assumed the post of city editor of the new paper.

In 1908, Creek journalist and poet Alex Posey was killed in a flood at the age of 34. At this time he was the best-known Creek in Oklahoma. For more than a decade his essays, news reports, political humor, and poetry had been read not only in native Creek nation, but also in the Indian Territory at large, in the surrounding states, and in other parts of the United States.

Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part IV

In case you missed anything…

Part I describes the first generation of Modoc people to contact European-Americans, and the slow war in the Klamath Basin that destroyed the Second Generation. The Ben Wright Massacre is analyzed.

Part II encapsulates the Third Generation’s great crisis and the process leading to the Treaty of 1864, the significance of the Oregon reservation system, and Keintpoos’ years off the reservation before the US Army intervened, concluding with the escalation of tensions into full-blown war. We celebrate Thanksgiving at the end of November: at that time in 1872, Modoc people were fighting US Army from natural trenches in fiercely cold weather.

Part III covers the Modoc War of 1872-1873 as experienced by over 20 Modoc people, President Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, famous settler Lindsay Applegate, and others. It depicts the assassination of General Canby and the fall of the third generation since contact.

After the war’s conclusion, Keintpoos’ severed skull ended up in the Smithsonian. Brancho and Slolux spent life in prison at Alcatraz Island. Winema died in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1920. And the Modoc people were halved, and one half was shipped to Oklahoma.

Oklahoma

The Modoc who went to Lava Beds were collectively judged as prisoners of war, whether they were involved in hostilities during the War or not. A people of lakes, the Cascade Mountains and the high desert, these Modoc were punished by being transferred to eastern Oklahoma.

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.

The Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma explains how they ended up at Quapaw, and what happened to them there:

The terrible 2,000-mile winter ride in railroad cars intended for hauling cattle finally ended on November 16, 1873 when 153 Modoc men, women, and children arrived in Baxter Springs, Kansas cold and hungry.

In Baxter Springs, Captain Wilkinson conferred with Hiram W. Jones, Indian Agent at the Quapaw Agency as to where to place the Modoc. It was decided to locate them on Eastern Shawnee land where they would be under the direct supervision of Agent Jones. But Jones’ Quapaw Agency was little prepared to care for 153 persons with little but loose blankets on their backs. With Scarfaced Charley in command and only one day’s help from three non-Indians, the Modoc built their own temporary wood barracks two hundred yards from the agency headquarters. Some were housed in tents. These accommodations were to be their home until June of 1874 when 4,000 acres were purchased for them from the Eastern Shawnee

…Captain Wilkinson remained with his charges until the second week in December. When he left the agency, he reported to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, “on the cars, in the old hotel used for them at Baxter, I found them uniformly obedient, ready to work, cheerful in compliance with police regulations, and with each day providing over and over that they only required just treatment, executed with firmness and kindness to make them a singularly reliable people.”

Despite their industriousness, poverty and material loss would continue to plague the people:

Agent Jones also found he had no difficulty enforcing the strictest discipline, although one small area of friction had developed. This was the habit of some of the Modoc in gambling, resulting in some instances in losing what few possessions they had. When Scarfaced Charley, who had replaced Captain Jack [Keintpoos] as chief, refused to interfere, Jones appointed Bogus Charley as chief. He remained chief until 1880 when formal Modoc tribal government in Oklahoma came to an end for almost 100 years.

More on the dissolution of the legal tribe in a bit. For now, the hard times after arrival:

The first years following removal to Indian Territory were difficult ones for the Modoc. They suffered much sickness and many hardships due to the corrupt and cruel administration of Agent Jones. During the first winter at the Quapaw Agency, there were no government funds available for food, clothing, or medical supplies. It would be almost a year after removal that funds in the amount of $15,000 were received for their needs.

In Oklahoma, the POW population declined precipitously:

The death rate was especially high among the children and the aged. By 1879, after six years at the Quapaw Agency, 54 deaths had reduced the Modoc population to 99. By the time of the Modoc allotment in 1891, there were only 68 left to receive allotments, and many of them had been born after removal. Had it not been for the gifts of money and clothing from charitable organizations in the east, General William Tecumseh Sherman’s wish not to leave a Modoc man, woman, or child alive so the name Modoc would cease, would have become a reality.

If you do a search of ‘Oregon’ in this Quapaw Agency Census from 1900, you will find some of the surviving Modoc. Modoc people are the only tribe of which I’m aware that were ever shipped to Oklahoma from far west.  Their race is indicated as “In” for Indian. Jennie Clinton, or Stimitchuas, is one of the individuals listed. It is believed that she died at age 89 in 1950, but it’s possible she was born earlier than 1861. (She was of the fourth generation after contact, having some pre-reservation and war memories but ultimately spending her adulthood in the reservation system.)

It Was the Assimilation Era

With first Americans no longer free to roam the country, European-Americans thought that the plight of Indians would be alleviated, and with that alleviation, the Indian problem for European-Americans would be solved, by educating and acculturating Indians to Western life.  Quakers had already established a Quapaw boarding school in 1871, 2 years before Modoc arrival. The school was miles to the northwest of the agency.  Isolated from their families, children would forcibly have their hair cut by missionaries, wear European-American schoolchildren garb, and become literate and converted Christians by the missionaries forbidding their language, Klamath-Modoc.

Modoc people at both the Quapaw Agency, Oklahoma and Oregon reservations displayed a strong interest in education and literacy.  In 1879, Modoc people built a church and school on the Modoc Reservation at Quapaw. Later, Modoc children attended the Carlisle School, the notorious string of Indian boarding schools, in Kansas. The families that sent children there included the Hoods, Hoover, Balls and McCartys. Schonchin John’s stepson Adam McCarty died at Carlisle, and Modoc stopped sending their children to Carlisle.

After the war, the third generation since contact passed into elderhood–if they weren’t already butchered or executed. Modoc War leader Steamboat Frank became the first Indian to become an ordained Quaker.  He died in Portland, Maine in the 1890s. The Fourth Generation became the establishment.  The Fifth Generation grew up speaking English.

Dawes, Curtis and Statehood

In 1887, the Dawes Act changed American Indian life forever. Among the most significant changes, reservation land was broken up into patrilineal, owned parcels. This change furthered the loss of Indian land that began with the early treaties and reservations.  

The plains itself had been established as a vast reservation for tribes from the midwest, south and east. But once tapping aquifers like Oglalla and cattle ranching became feasible (Chicago boomed as an inland rail-port) Indians were further reduced to the Indian Territory–Oklahoma.  But now even Indian Territory was wanted, and especially its natural resources.  Statehood for Oklahoma would mean breaking the power of Indian tribes.

Dawes opened a can of worms that, for the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma, would spiral into a loss of sovereignty and environmental degradation.  An amendment to Dawes, the Curtis Act of 1898, ended the authority of tribal courts and the tribal governments themselves in Oklahoma. (Charles Curtis himself was a Republican congressman of Osage descent, who wanted education, assimilation and opportunity for Indians through his bill, which was later botched by various committees.)  Although Oklahoma’s natural resource history is most associated with its oil-boom perhaps, in the Quapaw area, rich deposits of zinc and lead allowed for a mining boom. Multiple Indian tribes leased out their land. Today, Quapaw area residents contend with a superfund site from those mines and the environmental costs that entails.

In 1909, the US government permitted Oklahoma Modoc to return to Oregon. Twenty-nine did so. Jennie Clinton was among them; she would then divorce and live until 1950 in a cabin on Oregon’s Williamson River.  The remaining forebears of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma were (and still are) the smallest group of American Indian people in the region.

This is how the Third and Fourth Generations lived and died in Oklahoma.

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

Centuries of Genocide: Modoc Indians, Part III

( – promoted by navajo)

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American-Indian-Heritage-Month

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.

FIGURES

  MODOC

  • 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

    YANKEES

  • 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.

    Punishment

    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.

    Note

    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.

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    “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.

    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.

    The Katy and the Indians in the 19th Century

    Following the Civil War, the Indian nations located in Indian Territory (an area which would later become the state of Oklahoma) faced two massive forces. First, the federal government wanted to impose new treaties on them, treaties which were intended to punish them for their role in the Civil War. The federal government either forgot or ignored the fact that the Civil War had divided these nations and that many had supported the Union during the war.

    The second, and perhaps more powerful force, was the concept of manifest destiny which was being carefully nurtured by the corporate news media and the school systems. It was America’s destiny to occupy and develop the western wilderness, ignoring any interests which the aboriginal inhabitants of the area might have. One of the corporate sponsors of manifest destiny was the railroad. If the West was to be developed, then the railroads would have to connect them to American and global markets. The railroads lobbied Congress to obtain favored status and superior rights.  

    Cherokee chief John Ross had been a Union supporter during the Civil War and had spent much of the war in Washington, D.C. In spite of Ross’s personal charisma and his influence among government officials, a new treaty was imposed upon the Cherokee. When John Ross died in Washington in 1866, his nephew Will Ross was named principal chief to fill the unexpired term of his uncle. John Ross had groomed him for this position and had paid for his education at Princeton, where he had graduated with honors at the top of his class. With regard to the new treaty with the United States, Will Ross said:

    “Whatever may be our opinion as to the justice and wisdom of some of the stipulations it imposes, we have full assurance that the delegation obtained the most favorable terms they could, and it is our duty to comply in good faith with all its provisions.”

    However, Chief Ross indicated that there were some troublesome articles in the treaty. One of these, Article 11, granted a right of way through Cherokee land for a railroad.

    In addition to forcing the Cherokee to grant a railroad right-of-way through their territory, the federal government required the same of the other nations. In the 1866 treaty imposed upon the Creek, for example, the treaty called for the Creek to give up rights-of-way for two railroads: one north-south and one east-west.

    In order to take advantage of manifest destiny, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad was incorporated in 1870. It was generally called the K-T, which soon became the Katy. The newly formed railroad soon crossed the border into Cherokee territory and then veered southwest into the Creek Nation, the Choctaw Nation, and the Chickasaw Nation. This opened the way for the corporate invasion of Indian lands that would divest the tribes of their natural resources, land, and sovereignty. The Katy did not pay for its right-of-way. It also had an exemption from taxes and it bought raw materials from individuals in direct violation of tribal laws. In other words, the Katy ran roughshod over the Indian nations, seeking to extract as much wealth as it could while giving as little as possible in return.

    In building the railroad, the steel rails had to be imported, but the ties upon which they rested could be obtained locally. The cedar forests which were abundant in Indian Territory seemed to be ideal for the ties. The railroad construction used up 2,700 ties per mile which resulted in much deforestation. Both the Choctaw and Chickasaw governments passed legislation to limit the exploitation of tribal resources to its tribal members. While many tribal members cut timber for the railroads, there was a great deal of poaching by non-Indians. Since the tribal courts had no jurisdiction over non-Indians, there was little that the Indian nations could do to enforce laws that regulated timber cutting.

    Like other corporate interests of the time, the Katy felt that it was wrong for “unproductive” Indians to claim a rich and productive land while there were thousands of non-Indians who would be willing to take over the land and “develop” it. Of course, these non-Indians would make better use of the resources and in doing so would have to use the railroad’s services. In order to discourage Indian development, the Katy often refused to carry Indian freight and to stop at Indian towns.

    In 1870, the first of a series of intertribal meetings known as the Okulgee Convention was held. Delegates from many Indian nations attended: Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Ottawa, Eastern Shawnee, Quapaw, Seneca, Wyandotte, Peoria, Sac and Fox, Wea, Osage, and Absentee Shawnee. The delegates drew up a memorial to President Ulysses S. Grant, asking him to uphold the treaties of 1866-1867, to prevent the creation of a territorial government, and to deny access to the territory to any new railroads.

    In 1871, Cherokee entrepreneur E.C. Bodinot, knowing where the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas (Katy) and the Atlantic and Pacific (A & P) railroads would intersect in the Cherokee Nation, constructed a hotel at the site. He then staked off the rest of the land into lots and named the new town Vinita. However, Boudinot’s actions were illegal under Cherokee law. Cherokee law at this time decreed that all land within one square mile of any railroad station was under the control of the Cherokee Nation. No one could make improvements on it without authorization from the Cherokee government. The Cherokee, in order to avoid a legal battle with Boudinot, convinced the A & P to move the intersection three miles north. In response Boudinot moved his hotel, and the new town of Vinita, north to the new site. The hotel, a two-story building, was named the Railroad Hotel.

    In 1871, the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad built an illegal rail line through Choctaw territory in order to obtain coal.

    In 1872, the Katy was completed through Creek territory. The completion of the railroad connected the Creek nation economically with the outside world. This encouraged more non-Indian agricultural settlement.

    By 1876, railroads were often touted as important for economic development of the tribes and the tribes were encouraged to provide economic support for the railroads passing through their lands. In Oklahoma, however, the Cherokee found that passengers were being charged 12 cents a mile in their nation as compared with 3-4 cents in the neighboring off-reservation states. Freight rates on the reservation were high and in some instances the train would not stop on the reservation to even pick up the mail. When the tribes complained about this lack of service, the railroad lobbyists simply used this to bolster their case that so long as the tribes remained, profitable corporate enterprise would not be possible.

    The Choctaw appointed a tax collector to exercise their right as a sovereign nation to tax the railroad. If the Choctaw had the power to grant rights-of-way, they reasoned, then they should have the power to tax the railroads. The Katy ignored this.

    One of the lobbyists for the railroads was Elias Boudinot, a Cherokee from a prominent family. In 1879 he published an article in the Chicago Times that identified 14 million acres of Indian Territory as available for homesteading. This was land that had been set aside for the future settlement of Indians and had not yet been utilized. Boudinot’s article was widely republished in neighboring states. The Secretary of the Interior was soon receiving inquiries about homesteading the land. In addition, prospective settlers began camping out along the borders. Army patrols attempted to keep the intruders out. The Secretary of the Interior hinted to the tribes that the federal government might not be able to stem the tide of non-Indian settlement and advised them to give up holding land in common. They should instead prepare for the inevitable arrival of the homesteaders.

    Alarmed at the pressure being exerted by the railroads to open up Indian country in Oklahoma, a group of non-Indian women in the east gathered signatures on a petition. In 1880 they presented a roll of signatures more than 300 feet long to President Rutherford Hayes and to Congress. They then gathered more than 100,000 signatures on a second petition.

    In 1882, Congress granted a railroad a right-of-way through the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory, thus setting the precedent that Congress might authorize corporations to exercise privileges upon Indian lands without consulting the tribes.

    Overall, all of the railroads, and particularly the Katy, in Indian Territory set the stage for the destruction of tribal governments, the loss of Indian land and resources, and the increase in poverty among Indians. It shows that corporate interests, at least during the late nineteenth century, were greater than those of either the Indian people (most of whom could not vote) and the sovereign Indian nations for whom the United States had a fiduciary responsibility.

    The Nez Perce in Exile

    The 1877 Nez Perce War ended with the Battle of the Bear Paw in Montana. After a five-day siege the five non-treaty bands of Nez Perce surrendered with the understanding that they were to be sent to the Nez Perce Reservation in Idaho. A total of 418 Nez Perce surrendered: 87 men, 184 women, and 147 children. Among those who surrendered was Halahtookit (Daytime Smoke), the son of Captain William Clark, and his daughter and granddaughter.

    Following their surrender, the Nez Perce were taken to Kansas as prisoners of war. Here they asked the army to take them to Idaho. They pointed out that General Miles had promised them that they could return home. General Sherman, however, denied their request saying:

    “These Indians are prisoners and their wishes should not be consulted.”

    In 1878, Congress appropriated money for the permanent resettlement of the non-treaty Nez Perce bands to Oklahoma. The Nez Perce, who were considered to be prisoners of war, were transported from Leavenworth by train and then by wagon to lands purchased from the Peoria and Miami tribes. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs assured Congress that the climate of Oklahoma was similar to that of the Nez Perce homelands in Idaho and Oregon.

    On the first day of their journey, the Nez Perce were herded into an open field near a railroad siding. In temperatures hovering near one hundred degrees they waited in the open for the train. When it didn’t arrive, they spent the night in the open.

    The following year, the government encouraged three young Nez Perce Presbyterians-James Reuben, Mark Williams, and Archie Lawyer-to travel from their Idaho reservation to Oklahoma so that they could preach to the exiled Nez Perce who were being held there as prisoners of war. The bands which had been at war with the United States were pagan, and many were followers of the Wanapan prophet Smohalla. If the Nez Perce prisoners were to move to the Nez Perce Reservation they would have to give up their pagan ways.

    In 1879, Nez Perce leaders Chief Joseph and Yellow Bull and their interpreter traveled to St. Louis and then to Washington, D.C. In Washington, Chief Joseph addressed a packed house at the Lincoln Hall auditorium. For an hour and twenty minutes he told the audience about the history of his people, about the many broken promises, and about the problems they were having in Oklahoma. Chief Joseph and Yellow Bull spoke to a large group of cabinet members, congressmen, and diplomats. Joseph’s account of the causes of the war and their difficulties in Oklahoma were eloquent and moving. An interview with Joseph was also published in the North American Review. With this publicity, Joseph became the popular symbol among non-Indians for Nez Perce heroism.

    Chief Joseph

    While they were in Washington, the Nez Perce were also granted a meeting with President Rutherford B. Hayes. They returned home hopeful that the government would fulfill some of its promises to them.

    Chief Joseph 1880

    Shown above is Chief Joseph and family in 1880.

    In 1880, Nez Perce Presbyterian leader Archie Lawyer organized a church among the exiled Nez Perce. At the same time, James Rueben opened a day school which had an average attendance of 80 students.

    In 1883, a few of the Nez Perce prisoners of war-two elderly men and the rest women and orphans – were allowed to return to the reservation in Idaho.  The government refused to appropriate any money for the move so the Nez Perce raised the money themselves by selling gloves, moccasins, and foodstuffs.  

    Finally, in 1884, the Nez Perce who had been exiled to Oklahoma for their 1877 war were allowed to return to the northwest. They were given a choice of going to the Nez Perce reservation in Lapwai, Idaho where they would have to become Christians or going to the Colville Reservation in Washington. Nez Perce warrior Yellow Wolf reported that they were asked:

    “Where you want to go? Lapwai and be Christian, or Colville and just be yourself?”

    According to Yellow Wolf:

    “Because we respected our religion, we were not allowed to go on the Nez Perce Reservation.”

    Chief Joseph and the members of his band were not allowed to choose and were required to go to the Colville Reservation.

    The Lapwai Reservation in Idaho was a Presbyterian-administered reservation, and as such it was not an environment conducive to the practice of the old ways and beliefs. Those who wished to live as Christians would be welcomed, but those who wished to practice any of the old ways faced some danger. Among the Nez Perce captives, 118 chose to go to Lapwai.  

    On the Colville Reservation, those who wished to practice the old religion would be welcome. On the Colville Reservation the Nez Perce would be free from the oversight of the churches and Indian agents committed to their Christianizing and civilizing. Here they would be able to retain their traditional ways.

    On the trip home, the train stopped in Pocatello where it was to be divided: taking some Nez Perce to Lapwai and some to Colville. As the train was stopped in Pocatello, U.S. Marshals attempted to arrest Chief Joseph for murder. Instead of dividing at Pocatello, the train continued through to Wallula Junction.

    On the Colville Reservation, the Nez Perce settled in Nespelem territory. There was some friction as the Nespelem resented that the Nez Perce were settled on their land without their consent.

    The non-Indian response to the return of the non-treaty Nez Perce to the Nez Perce Reservation raised a demand to re-garrison Fort Lapwai. One editor wrote:

    “Isolated as we are and surrounded as we are by the most powerful tribe of Indians in the Northwest, the people of north Idaho have a right to demand from the government protection for their lives.”

    After being settled on the Colville Reservation, Chief Joseph continued being a popular icon among non-Indians. In 1897, Chief Joseph was taken to New York City to participate in a parade for the dedication of Grant’s Tomb. He was invited to Madison Square Garden to watch Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. When Buffalo Bill realized that he was in the audience, he rode over and paid his respects.

    In 1900, Chief Joseph, who was still a prisoner of war, was allowed by the government to visit the Wallowa Valley. He visited the grave sites of his parents and wept openly. The Americans who were now living in the valley, however, jeered him. They denigrated his spiritual connection to the land and they viewed his claims as antiquated and delusional.

    In 1901, Pendleton Wool Company in Oregon produced its first catalog entitled The Story of the Wild Indian’s Overcoat which featured a picture of Chief Joseph arrayed in a Pendleton robe on the cover. In its catalog and its advertising, the company made an effort to describe native customs and traditions.

    In 1903, Chief Joseph met with President Theodore Roosevelt in Washington, D.C.. At a buffalo dinner, Chief Joseph explained the situation of his people. He was promised by the President that someone would come to investigate the matter. It was another empty promise.

    In 1903, railroad magnate James J. Hill invited Chief Joseph to give a speech in the Seattle Theater. Chief Joseph told the packed audience:

    “The government at Washington has always given me many flattering promises but up to the present time has utterly failed to fulfill any of its promises.”

    Chief Joseph died of a heart attack on the Colville Reservation in 1904. Some people say that he died of a broken heart.

    American Indian Candidates

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    Congress passed legislation in 1924 which gave all American Indians citizenship. While citizenship should imply the right to vote, the states often imposed barriers to allowing Indians to vote. In some instances they ignored-or simply pled ignorance of-the fact that Indians were citizens.

    A combination of factors-restricting voter registration, gerrymandering, discouraging Indians from voting (including intimidation)-make it difficult for Indians to get elected to public office. At the present time there are Indian running in several states. The diary below mentions a few of them.  

    Arizona:

    Freshman lawmaker Chris Deschene (Navajo) has won the Democratic nomination for the office. In the general election Dechene will face Republican Ken Bennett who assumed the position when Jan Brewer was elevated to governor.

    Oklahoma:

    At the present time, Oklahoma is the only state where there are more Republican Indians serving in the legislature than Democrats.  There are twelve Republicans in the House and seven Democrats.  There are three Democrats in the Senate. This year there are a number of Democratic Indian candidates supported by INDN’s List running for office in Oklahoma.

    Jeff Jones (Osage) is running for District Attorney against a right wing State House member. None of Oklahoma’s 27 District Attorneys at the present time are tribal members. Jones was a member of the Teamsters Union. He got his law degree by going to law school at night.

    Steve Burrage (Choctaw) was appointed State Auditor and Inspector in July 2008 and is now running for election. In accepting the appointment, he said, “I want the State Auditor’s Office to be the best auditing firm in Oklahoma.” He immediately set work to accomplish this benchmark. Steve has conducted audits that have prosecuted felons and saved the state of Oklahoma hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Maya Torralba (Kiowa) is challenging an incumbent Republican in District 56. A champion of progressive causes, she completed the 2007 INDN Campaign Camp.

    Ken Luttrell (Cherokee) represents one of the most Republican districts in Oklahoma currently held by a Democrat. Republicans are committed to defeating him. Luttrell is a former member of the Communications Workers of America Union and serves on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

    Cory Williams (Cherokee) was elected to the state legislature (District 34) by 63 votes in 2008. He is currently running for reelection in one of the toughest State House races in Oklahoma. Republicans  used smear tactics and dirty tricks to try to beat him two years ago in one of the nastiest races in Oklahoma and they are will stop at nothing to try to defeat this progressive champion in November.

    Nevada:

    In 2000, John Oceguera was elected to the Nevada State Legislature as Assemblyman for District 16 in Southeast Las Vegas. The voters in District 16 have returned John to office every two years since that time. At the present time, John Oceguera is on track to become the next speaker of the house. He is being challenged by a republican and needs our support. He has been endorsed by INDN’s list.

    South Dakota:

    The top law enforcement person in the state is the Attorney General, an elective position. At the present time an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Ron Volesky, is running for this office.  

    UPDATE: Extremist Republican Attacks INDN’s List and Kalyn Free as “Radical”

    ( – promoted by navajo)

    Rex Duncan is at it again!  Typical of the Republican play book, Rex is trying to distract voters from his lack of experience and questionable ethics.   Indian Country Today just published an article showing how Rex’s ballot initiative even threatens tribal treaties.

    Rex’s newest target is INDN’s List itself!  In a recent mail piece (see below)  against INDN candidate, Jeff Jones, Rex attacks Jeff for receiving support from INDN’s List, which he calls a “radical liberal organization.”  And sticking with the Republican script, he posted a picture of Jeff, Speaker Pelosi President Obama, and Kalyn Free.

    Rex Duncan even went so far as to attack INDN’s List founder, Kalyn Free, as a liberal activist.  The truth is Kalyn Free, like our endorsed candidate Jeff Jones, has far more experience prosecuting criminals and putting them in prison than Duncan! 

    Make a contribution to INDN’s List today to hold Rex Duncan accountable for these lies and distortions!  Let’s show him that his attacks on INDN’s List make us stronger and raise more money for our excellent and highly qualified candidates, like Jeff Jones!

    Rex Duncan knows he is not qualified to serve as District Attorney.  Rex knows voters will choose Jeff’s integrity and experience over his lack of prosecutorial experience and questionable ethics.  That’s why The Tulsa World just endorsed Jeff Jones in his race for DA!  They said, “Duncan has supported a number of extreme positions and pushed several other irrelevant issues during his years in the legislature.”

    American Indians Candidates: Oklahoma

    ( – promoted by navajo)

    When many Indian nations were forcibly removed to what was has become Oklahoma, they were told that no political communities would be established except for those established by the Indians themselves. The state of Oklahoma, however, was not established by the Indians, but by the American settlers. Unlike other western states which have often ignored their Indian heritage, Oklahoma has strongly embraced its heritage and has acknowledged its Indian population.

    Oklahoma has elected Indians to public office since it obtained statehood: Robert L. Owen (Cherokee) was elected to the United States Senate and Cherokee tribal attorney and former speaker of the Cherokee House of Representatives James S. Davenport was elected to Congress.

    At the present time, Oklahoma is the only state where there are more Republican Indians serving in the legislature than Democrats.  There are twelve Republicans in the House and seven Democrats.  There are three Democrats in the Senate. This year there are a number of Democratic Indian candidates supported by INDN’s List running for office in Oklahoma.  

    State Auditor and Inspector:

    Steve Burrage (Choctaw) was appointed State Auditor and Inspector in July 2008 and is now running for election. In accepting the appointment, he said, “I want the State Auditor’s Office to be the best auditing firm in Oklahoma.” He immediately set work to accomplish this benchmark. Steve has conducted audits that have prosecuted felons and saved the state of Oklahoma hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    State Representative:

    Cory Williams (Cherokee) was elected to the state legislature (District 34) by 63 votes in 2008. He is currently running for reelection in one of the toughest State House races in Oklahoma. Republicans  used smear tactics and dirty tricks to try to beat him two years ago in one of the nastiest races in Oklahoma and they are will stop at nothing to try to defeat this progressive champion in November.

    Ken Luttrell (Cherokee) represents one of the most Republican districts in Oklahoma currently held by a Democrat. Republicans are committed to defeating him. Luttrell is a former member of the Communications Workers of America Union and serves on the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

    Maya Torralba (Kiowa) is challenging an incumbent Republican in District 56. A champion of progressive causes, she completed the 2007 INDN Campaign Camp. According to her website:

    It is Maya’s personal belief that Native American and Oklahoma values are Progressive values. These include lifting our human brothers and sisters to a higher standard of living; making sure our elders and children live in a safe community; paving a smooth road to educate our future generations; and keeping technology and the environment in a sustainable balance.

    http://www.rebuildwithmaya.com/

    District Attorney:

    Jeff Jones (Osage) is running for District Attorney against a right wing State House member. None of Oklahoma’s 27 District Attorneys at the present time are tribal members. Jones was a member of the Teamsters Union. He got his law degree by going to law school at night.

    A Final Note:

    Indians have long memories. The forced removed of Indians to Oklahoma was promoted and celebrated by Andrew Jackson, a Democrat. There are some Indians who have never forgiven the Democrats for this. We must continue to show Indian people that Democrats, not Republicans, have their best interests at heart.

    PLEASE MAKE A CONTRIBUTION AT INDN’S LIST TO HELP JOHN IN THIS RACE!

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    Native American Netroots Web BadgeCross Posted at Native American Netroots

     An ongoing series sponsored by the Native American Netroots team focusing on the current issues faced by American Indian Tribes and current solutions to those issues.

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    Oklahoma Statehood and Indian Nations

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    When Indians nations were removed to Indian Territory in the 1830s they were promised, both verbally and in writing, that in this new territory their tribal sovereignty would be respected. In 1835, President Andrew Jackson said:

    “The pledge of the United States has been given by Congress that the country destined for the residence of this people shall be forever ‘secured and guaranteed to them.’ A country west of Missouri and Arkansas has been assigned to them, into which the white settlements are not to be pushed. No political communities can be formed in that extensive region, except those which are established by the Indians themselves or by the United States for them and with their concurrence”

    Little by little, however, their lands were reduced. Soon, the American settlers in what had been Indian Territory were talking about statehood and about the dissolution of tribal sovereignty.  

    The first formal step toward statehood was the passage of the Oklahoma Organic Act in 1890.  Under this act, a territorial government was established and all of the Indian reservations in what had been Indian Territory were annexed into the new Oklahoma Territory.

    As the Oklahoma Territory moved toward statehood in the late nineteenth century, the Territorial Legislature passed laws which began to superimpose some jurisdiction over the Indian nations within the Territory. In 1899, the Territorial Legislature prohibited the practices of Indian medicine men. Those who practiced the incantations and healing ceremonies of the medicine men were subjected to not only fines, but also imprisonment. In addition, Indians were required to be married under American law rather than Indian custom. In a move against the Native American church, the Legislature also made peyote illegal.

    In 1901, all members of the Five Civilized Tribes-Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and Seminole-were granted citizenship by an act of Congress. This meant that every Indian adult male was a registered voter. This was an attempt to increase the number of voters in the territory so that it could gain statehood.

    Not all Indians were happy about the push toward statehood and some Indian leaders, such as Creek chief Pleasant Porter began to advocate the idea of a separate statehood for the Indians. Porter felt that this was the only way in which Indians could truly have a voice in their own affairs. In 1902, Chief Porter called a meeting of the Five Civilized Tribes to discuss alternatives to statehood. However, only representatives from the Creek and Seminole tribes attended. Porter then called for a second meeting, which also failed.

    In 1903, the Five Civilized Tribes Executive Committee passed a resolution asking each tribal council to petition Congress for statehood for Indian Territory. While some of the tribes passed such resolutions, Congress had little interest in separate statehood.

    In 1905, representatives from the Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw nations held a convention at which they drew up a constitution for the state of Sequoyah, which would be separate and distinct from Oklahoma Territory which was seeking statehood. The call for the convention was issued by W.C. Rogers, the Cherokee Principal Chief, and by Green McCurtain, the Choctaw chief. The issue of whether Oklahoma should be one state or two is summed up by the Muskogee Phoenix:

    “There are in Indian Territory some few persons who desire two states made of the two territories and who honestly believe this can be done. There are some persons who desire conditions to remain as they now are and who know that to fight for two states is to fight for no statehood legislation, and this makes them especially active.”

    The constitutional convention has been characterized as the most representative body of Indians ever assembled in the United States.

    The constitution for the state of Sequoyah was submitted to the voters: the turnout was light, but the vote was strongly in favor of it. The measure was then presented to Congress which simply ignored it. Politically, there was never the slightest chance that Congress would consent to the admission of two Western states-both probably radical and probably Democratic. One state was politically a better solution in the eyes of Congressional politicians.

    In order to clear the way for Oklahoma statehood, Congress in 1906 passed an Act to Provide for the Final Disposition of the Affairs of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. In other words, Congress unilaterally dissolved five sovereign tribal governments. The Department of the Interior took over the Indian schools, school funds, and tribal government buildings and furniture. The law provided that the President may appoint a principal chief for any of the tribes. If a chief failed to sign a document presented to him by U.S. authorities, he was either to be replaced or the document could be simply approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

    In 1906, Congress passed the Oklahoma Enabling Act as one step in the creation of the state of Oklahoma. With regard to Indians, the Act imposed a condition on the state constitution: Oklahoma cannot limit federal authority over Indians within its boundaries.

    The state of Oklahoma was created in 1907. The tribal governments in the area were dissolved. The Indians in an area which had been promised to them as their exclusive home constituted only 5% of the population of the new state.

    Unlike other western states which have often ignored their Indian heritage, Oklahoma has strongly embraced its heritage and has acknowledged its Indian population. Upon becoming a state, Robert L. Owen (Cherokee) was elected to the United States Senate. Cherokee tribal attorney and former speaker of the Cherokee House of Representatives James S. Davenport was elected to Congress.

    Tribal governments continued to function after Oklahoma became a state. The Seminoles, for example, never ceased to maintain their fourteen band organizations with a chief and two councilmen from each, and these forty-two officers met once a month to discuss tribal affairs, appoint committees, and adopt resolutions. In a similar fashion, the other tribes also continued to meet, even though they no longer had formal recognition by the U.S. government.  

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    Epic Irony

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    Cross posted from Daily Kos and Blue Jersey

    Diary updated by navajo to include video

    In lower Manhattan, on what will now be known as Native American Heritage Day, November 27, 2009, in front of the Museum of the American Indian, a historical event centuries in the making occurred as the Collegiate Church, formerly known as the Dutch Reformed Church, apologized to three of the four Lenape tribes left – NJ The Sand Hill Band of Lenape and Cherokee Indians, the Oklahoma Delaware, and the Lenape of Ontario, Canada, the Munsee.



    The irony is that the very same NJ tribe that the Collegiate Church apologized to, and the one recognized by the State Department of the Federal Government and the Obama Administration, is the very same one that the State of NJ and its Commission on Indian Affairs REFUSES to recognize as indigenous and is attempting to write OUT of history.  History 400 years in the making was taking place in lower Manhattan while a few miles west across the Hudson, 12,000 years of history was being systematically, ruthlessly, maliciously erased.

    The NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs needs to do some explaining. The Chair of the NJ Commission is a Ramapough, who are Tuscarora in origin, with Cherokee and Lenape having married into the tribe.  Also represented on the NJ Commission are the Nanticoke, who are from what is now the state of Delaware, who arrived here in the 1970′s and the Powhatan, from Virginia, also new (1970s) arrivals.  Conspicuous by their absence from the NJ Commission are the two oldest tribes in NJ, the Lenape – who are revered in song and story from one end of the state to the other because they were the original inhabitants of NJ going back 12,000 years, and the Cherokee tribe here since 1830, whose relatives walked the Trail of Tears.  These two tribes have been ignored and lied to by the very Commission which is supposed to represent them.  The Chiefs of both tribes have been requesting since the Commission was formed a decade ago, to be represented.  Even the Governor has refused their request.  This is what has prompted the Sand Hill Band to file a lawsuit in February which Judge Haden appears to have allegedly stalled in Federal District Court in Newark to this day.

    One of the members of the Church happened to be a Ramapough Indian and was a speaker.  However, because the Ramapough had been invited to attend, the last remaining Lenape tribe left on Long Island – the Shinnecock – refused to come to the event.  The reason being was that they do not consider the Ramapough a Lenape Tribe.  To understand how large the rift is now between the last Lenape tribes here and the Ramapough, consider that the Shinnecock did not want to give the current Ramapough even the appearance of legitimacy as a Lenape tribe. The difference between the two is as different as Italy is from Russia. The Lenape are Algonquin while the Tuscarora are Iroquois.  Different customs, different language, different culture.  Over the years Cherokee and Lenape married into the Ramapough tribe as did the Dutch, but the fact that the Ramapough are passing themselves off as a Lenape “nation”, is quite offensive to the last true Lenape tribes left in NY and NJ. The Shinnacock would not bear the insult.

    It is ironic that a chosen few of the Ramapough would attempt to prevent any recognition whatsoever of the Lenape grandfather tribe in NJ, while passing themselves off as a Lenape “nation”, and again, quite offensive. The fact that the State of NJ allegedly is going along with the charade is beyond the pale as well as costing the taxpayers over 25 million dollars to date.

    And so, while history was being made in NYC, just across the river in NJ, history was being undone, erased, and a revisionist history being jammed into place to benefit a few, unscrupulous folks who appear to be allegedly committing identity theft on a huge scale.  They are even using the internet to wage their misinformation campaign.  Wikipedia has even been changed to leave out the Sand Hill altogether and erroneously states that NJ has three recognized tribes – which, according to Governor Corzine, it doesn’t.

    We arrived by ferry and walked to the Bowling Green in front of the old Customs House which now houses the Museum of the American Indian.  The sky was gray and the wind was picking up, but thankfully the rain held off.  The covered stage was set up in the plaza with a huge color backdrop of what Manhattan had looked like before the Dutch came.  It had been a beautiful sea of green forest with a few small smoke plumes from Lenape villages visible.  It was truly beautiful.  The name of the event was “Healing Turtle Island”, which is what the Lenape called the land.  Facing the stage were 200 folding white chairs that would seat the families of the Church members and the Tribal Chiefs and elders.

    Despite the absence of the Shinnecock, it was a happy reunion for many of the participants.  Chief Darius J. TwoBears Ross of the Ani~Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band – a cousin tribe and ally to the Sand Hills, arrived with his tribal members, elders and family. In attendance was ShadowWalker, Red Chief of the Ani~Tsalagi,  tribal elder Ed TwoBears Peart and his family and Tribal Elder Diane BlueSkyLenapeWoman Crawford, who was a Ramapough and who is now a member of the Ani~Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band.  

    Then the Sand Hill members started to arrive. I met Principal Chief MedicineCrow Holloway and his family including his son, Chairman Ron Yonaguska Holloway, who would give the keynote address.  Arleen Richards, great granddaughter of Chief Crummel of the Sand Hill was also present with her family.  There was also tribal elder Yvonne Dennis, the children’s book author,  Also in attendance were two Delaware tribal representatives who came all the way from Bartesville, Oklahoma, Curtis Zingha, and Carmen McKosato Ketcher, as well as Lenape from Ontario Canada, The Munsee.

    It was a virtual who’s who of NJ’s Lenape and Cherokee tribal elders and chiefs.  It was wonderful to see them all in one place.  There were smiles and hugs all around. These were the first contact Lenape Nations (The Sand Hills, The Delaware from OK, The Munsee from Canada) who had suffered the most from the discovery of the New World.  The speeches by the Oklahoma Delaware and the Sand Hill about forgiveness would be the most emotional and touching of all the addresses at the event.

    To the curiosity of many, Dwayne Perry, CEO of the Ramapough, was also in attendance.   Recently the Court had ruled that the Ramapough are no longer a tribe but simply a non profit 501.c3. They must have their election this coming June and it will be closely monitored. Allegedly, days before the last election, when Perry was named Chief, nearly 25 families were kicked out of the Ramapough tribe and not allowed to vote until two weeks AFTER the election when they were re-instated.  It reminded me of a BCDO election under Joe Ferriero.  The very sad part of the whole Ramapough story, is that there are Lenape members of this “Tuscarora” tribe and they are related to the Sand Hill.  

    At 11 am, the event began. The drum circle included half a dozen tribal members singing in strong, clear voices while striking a single large drum with large sticks, buffered by soft cloth at the ends.  The strength and power of the vocals struck me.  It was mesmerizing and incredibly stirring.

    The blessing came first, then a description of what Manahatta was like before Henry Hudson arrived.  The Church members described their role in the settling of New Amsterdam, and why we were here this day. The Church representative publicly apologized for their painful role in the exploitation of the resources of this new world and the resultant displacement and suffering of the Lenape people.

    Chairman Ronald Yonaguska Holloway accepted the apology on behalf of the Lenape in an eloquent speech that ended with a promise of hope for the future.  Rev. Chase, a descendent of the very first Dutch child born here in the New World, then embraced Ron Holloway, the son of the current Principal Chief of the Sand Hill, in a symbolic gesture of forgiveness.

    The representatives of the Bartesville Oklahoma Delaware followed, explaining that the Lenape thought that no one could own land – it would be like owning the wind – recounted how the misunderstandings began.  The Lenape from Oklahoma then spoke of forgiveness and how it was freeing.  In a symbolic gesture of peace, they brought the Church elders wampum beads that recorded this event. The son of the Oklahoma Delaware representative and the daughter of a Church elder then exchanged necklaces in a show of harmony for the future.

    Chief MedicineCrow Holloway of the Sand Hill and his son, Chairman Ron Yonaguska Holloway played a haunting flute and drum piece written especially for the occasion by Chief Holloway, a gifted, critically acclaimed musician.  The haunting melody evoked the spiritual feeling of the day, sorrowful remembrance, but beauty as well.  The softness and clarity of a message waiting to be heard by those of us willing to finally listen.  Elegant in its simplicity.  

    The theme spoken of again and again was the future and where to go from here. We have changed each other forever, but while the Church admitted to regrettably imposing their will on their “brothers and sisters”, they called now for learning FROM the Lenape on how to live sustainably and care for Creation.  Creation was a repeated idea throughout the day. It is the central idea that both the Church and the Lenape have most in common.  The Lenape creation story of the land being created from the back of a turtle was invoked.  Creation should be the common ground going forward.  How we protect and cherish our natural world and each other.

    Outside in the windy day, with the Hudson’s waters lapping against the shoreline nearby, the grey sky showing nature’s power over us, it somehow made sense that this event was not held indoors.  The Lenape have always revered the earth, and perhaps that is what held the rain back that day.  The sun broke through at the end of the event while the public and the elders of the Church and the tribes shared steaming cups of bison chili with cornbread. Yvonne Dennis shared her books with crowd eager to learn more about Native Americans. The drum circle that had begun the day’s events played on as we all shared in the meal together and got to all know each other better.

    Somehow I could imagine the Creator up there, smiling.

    For a Timeline of the Sand Hill saga, here is my Blue Jersey diary:

    http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

    Here are the primary source documents that I have posted regarding this story:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/1…

    The attempts to punish tribal members for speaking out about their mistreatment:

    http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

    A comprehensive diary with links to yet more diaries on this:

    http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

    An video Interview with Chairman Ron Yonaguska Holloway:

    http://www.bluejersey.com/diar…

    What you all can do:  There are bills stalled in Committee in the NJ legislature right now that would rectify this travesty of justice by giving seats on the NJ Commission on American Indian Affairs to Reps of the Sand Hill Band and the Ani Tsalagi Onaselagi Northeastern Band.  CALL and WRITE to your representatives and tell them to support Senator Loretta Weinberg’s bill.