Seldom do I watch what I call “regular” television anymore. With bad news looming daily, and the continued corruption of our country by our so called “leaders,” there is only gloom, doom, and despair in our world if you watch the six o’clock news, Fox, or CNN. See there, I’m not biased, I condemn them all. Primetime shows consist of murder, burglary, or kidnapping. No wonder wrongful messages are being sent to our youth, but I will elaborate on this in an article down the road. It’s been several months since I’ve tortured myself by self-indulging in the channels that create stress, put you in a bad mood, or cause you to have stents. If you read last week’s article, you already know what that means. Nope, the gloom-doom tube is rarely a part of my day, even though I turn it on each morning and evening. I’ll explain.
YouTube offers options that can inspire you with relevant, informative, and entertaining subjects. Whether you’re looking for information on how and why to prune tomatoes, watching an epic hunt for Dall sheep, or participating vicariously in legendary flooded timber mallard encounters, you can pick and choose your preferences. I’ve been a history buff for many years. I am not only intrigued, but mesmerized, with The Rocky Mountains, The Lewis and Clark expedition, the mountain men, and Native Americans. It was while I was “surfing” this platform that I came across my inspiration for this article.
There was a wide array of choices, like “the Woodland Tribes of North America,” “The Comanche,” “The History of the Dakota and Lakota,” and the one I clicked on first, “The Tragic Decline of the Plains Indians.” For hours, I was totally enthralled with not only the history of societies, cultures, and civilizations, but came to think about what one nation and a government can do to another people.
Our country, as we know it geographically, has been inhabited by Native Americans for millions of years. For thousands of years, a people developed their own form of societies, governments, and religions. Some of these civilizations gathered roots, fruits, and berries to sustain themselves. These people could be considered our first horticulturists. Other nations of people may have lived by the harvest of wild salmon offered to them by their “great provider.” There were those that followed the migration of bison through the four seasons to keep their families warm and well-fed for centuries.
People protected and used their resources wisely and learned not to abuse their “gifts” which in turn took care of them for eons. Sure, there was conflict between them, but it worked well for a very long time. Little did these people know there was a storm on the horizon. It was brewing in the form of three ships, the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.
When Christopher Columbus landed, he claimed “The Americas” in the name of the Queen of Spain. It was soon noted that there were already inhabitants living in this “new world” which really wasn’t new at all. Though estimates vary greatly, William M. Denevan, in his book “The Native Population of the Americas in 1492” estimated the population of indigenous people to be around 3.8 million. Henry F. Dobyns estimated the population of North American people to be around 18 million in his book, “Their Number Become Thinned.” It didn’t take long for a European migration to appear on the landscape. They soon realized the natural resources of this land were vast, and they wanted them. So, the demise and decline of the Native American began.
Can you believe this began with Pope Alexander the 5th writing “The Doctrine of Discovery?” This led to European colonization of territories and subjection of the native people. In time, this doctrine took on a new name, “Manifest Destiny.” In other words, this was interpreted that the lands and resources of a people could be taken as a “right” under God. As settlers moved west, one culture slowly took over another. Native Americans were labeled as an uncivilized people by being uneducated, and as savages without an organized religion and government.
This was the accepted justification and as a legitimate “law” for taking over one’s country and culture. As needed, new laws were enacted by “our” government to take Native American lands and displace these people by any means, including killing them. Treaties were made and when the U.S. government saw a need to benefit themselves, the rules were changed in the middle of the game. Outbreaks of introduced diseases such as smallpox and measles decimated the native people with their lack of immunities. Could Covid-19 be placed in this category?
Tribes realized, in time, they could not defeat the U.S. government militarily, and more treaties were proposed and considered. Once signed by tribal leaders, the Native Americans thought they had binding agreements. Many times, these treaties were never ratified by congress thus relieving the U.S. of their obligations to allow Native Americans to retain their lands and not even pay them for it. Furthermore, in 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act of 1830, a policy of relocating Indians from their homelands to Indian territory and reservations in surrounding areas to open their lands for non-native settlements. This resulted in The Trail of Tears, which amounted to the ethnic cleansing of many tribes with the brutal march to other lands.
Other means of leading to the demise of a noble people was the hiring of buffalo hunters to bring to extinction this species which sustained the Indians for centuries. Of course, I’m sure you have an account of the battle of Washita, the Rosebud, and the Little Bighorn. Who were the “civilized” people during this time of tragic transition? Am I stirring you to think about how “we” got to where we are today? A supposedly sovereign, civilized nation took over another nation. And to think, it is still occurring as we speak. Ukraine is being overrun. A foreign disease has penetrated this country. Did Hitler try and decimate a culture? What’s next?
Who may be next? What will prevent a “government” from taking over your homes and your way of life as you know it today, as it did with the 574 recognized tribes by the U.S. Congress from 1492 until they became no more as they once were? Are you familiar with the cliché, history always repeats itself? We better not become complacent and depend on a government to supply us with food, water, and blankets. Oh, you don’t think this could happen? I invite you to ask Quanah Parker, Sitting Bull, and Chief Joseph, on what not only can, but did occur not that long ago. Think about a nation and a people and what keeps them independent and strong.
Strength comes in the form of a people and not the dependency on its government or any government for that matter. Think about where we are today as a country. Maybe this article would be a good one to put on your refrigerator for all to read. I hope you do. Until next time enjoy our woods and waters and remember, let’s leave it better than we found it.