Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Again, I bring your attention to the very excellent work done on:


... by Dr. Frank B. Brouillet
Superintendent of Public Instruction
State of Washington

Cheryl Chow
Assistant Superintendent
Division of Instructional Programs and Services

Warren H. Burton
Office for Multicultural and Equity Education

Dr. Willard E. Bill
Supervisor of Indian Education

Originally written and developed by
Cathy Ross, Mary Robertson, Chuck Larsen, and Roger Fernandes
Indian Education, Highline School District

With an introduction by:
Chuck Larsen
Tacoma School District

Printed: September, 1986...

Please go to:
NAW: Thanksgiving

(Wampanoag wigwam courtesy of

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bear Tooth

November 9, 1867: The peace commissioners who met on September 19, 1867 at Platte City, Nebraska, arrived at Fort Laramie in southeastern Wyoming on this day. Commissioners Sherman, Taylor, Harney, Sanborn, Henderson, Tappan and Terry sought Red Cloud, but he had said he would not come to the fort until all of the soldiers had left the Powder River area. The Commissioners were given a lecture by Crow Indian, Bear Tooth, on the ecological disaster they were spreading across Indian Lands. Making no headway, the Commissioners eventually left without an agreement or substantial negotiations.

(Image courtesy of

BACKGROUND: From "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown, Section "Red Cloud's War", p.144. Random House (Publishers), ISBN No 0 09 952640 9

On November 9, when the commissioners arrived at Fort Laramie, they found only a few Crow chiefs waiting to meet with them. The Crows were friendly, but one of them - Bear Tooth - made a surprising speech in which he condemned all white men for their reckless destruction of wildlife and the natural environment: "Fathers, fathers, fathers, hear me well. Call back your young men from the mountains of the bighorn sheep. They have run over our country; they have destroyed the growing wood and the green grass; they have set fire to our lands. Fathers, your young men have devastated the country and killed my animals, the elk, the deer, the antelope, my buffalo. They do not kill them to eat them; they leave them to rot where they fall. Fathers, if I went into your country to kill your animals, what would you say? Should I not be wrong, and would you not make war on me?"

(Map section courtesy of


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Rain In The Face

October 31, 1880: Spotted Eagle and Rain in the Face surrender at Ft.Keogh.

(Image courtesy of


Rain-in-the-Face as remembered by Ohiyesa (Charles A. Eastman)

The noted Sioux warrior, Rain-in-the-Face, whose name once carried terror to every part of the frontier, died at his home on the Standing Rock reserve in North Dakota on September 14, 1905. About two months before his death I went to see him for the last time, where he lay upon the bed of sickness from which he never rose again, and drew from him his life-history.

It had been my experience that you cannot induce an Indian to tell a story, or even his own name, by asking him directly.

"Friend," I said, "even if a man is on a hot trail, he stops for a smoke! In the good old days, before the charge there was a smoke. At home, by the fireside, when the old men were asked to tell their brave deeds, again the pipe was passed. So come, let us smoke now to the memory of the old days!" He took of my tobacco and filled his long pipe, and we smoked. Then I told an old mirthful story to get him in the humor of relating his own history. The old man lay upon an iron bedstead, covered by a red blanket, in a corner of the little log cabin. He was all alone that day; only an old dog lay silent and watchful at his master's feet.

Finally he looked up and said with a pleasant smile:

"True, friend; it is the old custom to retrace one's trail before leaving it forever! I know that I am at the door of the spirit home.

"I was born near the forks of the Cheyenne River, about seventy years ago. My father was not a chief; my grandfather was not a chief, but a good hunter and a feast-maker. On my mother's side I had some noted ancestors, but they left me no chieftainship. I had to work for my reputation.

"When I was a boy, I loved to fight," he continued. "In all our boyish games I had the name of being hard to handle, and I took much pride in the fact. "I was about ten years old when we encountered a band of Cheyennes. They were on friendly terms with us, but we boys always indulged in sham fights on such occasions, and this time I got in an honest fight with a Cheyenne boy older than I. I got the best of the boy, but he hit me hard in the face several times, and my face was all spattered with blood and streaked where the paint had been washed away. The Sioux boys whooped and yelled: "'His enemy is down, and his face is spattered as if with rain! Rain-in-the-Face! His name shall be Rain-in-the-Face!'

"Afterwards, when I was a young man, we went on a warpath against the Gros Ventres. We stole some of their horses, but were overtaken and had to abandon the horses and fight for our lives. I had wished my face to represent the sun when partly covered with darkness, so I painted it half black, half red. We fought all day in the rain, and my face was partly washed and streaked with red and black: so again I was christened Rain-in-the-Face. We considered it an honorable name.

"I had been on many warpaths, but was not especially successful until about the time the Sioux began to fight with the white man. One of the most daring attacks that we ever made was at Fort Totten, North Dakota, in the summer of 1866.

"Hohay, the Assiniboine captive of Sitting Bull, was the leader in this raid. Wapaypay, the Fearless Bear, who was afterward hanged at Yankton, was the bravest man among us. He dared Hohay to make the charge. Hohay accepted the challenge, and in turn dared the other to ride with him through the agency and right under the walls of the fort, which was well garrisoned and strong.

"Wapaypay and I in those days called each other 'brother-friend.' It was a life-and-death vow. What one does the other must do; and that meant that I must be in the forefront of the charge, and if he is killed, I must fight until I die also!

"I prepared for death. I painted as usual like an eclipse of the sun, half black and half red."

His eyes gleamed and his face lighted up remarkably as he talked, pushing his black hair back from his forehead with a nervous gesture.

"Now the signal for the charge was given! I started even with Wapaypay, but his horse was faster than mine, so he left me a little behind as we neared the fort. This was bad for me, for by that time the soldiers had somewhat recovered from the surprise and were aiming better.

"Their big gun talked very loud, but my Wapaypay was leading on, leaning forward on his fleet pony like a flying squirrel on a smooth log! He held his rawhide shield on the right side, a little to the front, and so did I. Our warwhoop was like the coyotes singing in the evening, when they smell blood!

"The soldiers' guns talked fast, but few were hurt. Their big gun was like a toothless old dog, who only makes himself hotter the more noise he makes," he remarked with some humor.

"How much harm we did I do not know, but we made things lively for a time; and the white men acted as people do when a swarm of angry bees get into camp. We made a successful retreat, but some of the reservation Indians followed us yelling, until Hohay told them that he did not wish to fight with the captives of the white man, for there would be no honor in that. There was blood running down my leg, and I found that both my horse and I were slightly wounded.

"Some two years later we attacked a fort west of the Black Hills [Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming]. It was there we killed one hundred soldiers." [The military reports say eighty men, under the command of Captain Fetterman -- not one left alive to tell the tale!] "Nearly every band of the Sioux nation was represented in that fight -- Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, Big Foot, and all our great chiefs were there. Of course such men as I were then comparatively unknown. However, there were many noted young warriors, among them Sword, the younger Young-Man-Afraid, American Horse [afterward chief], Crow King, and others.

"This was the plan decided upon after many councils. The main war party lay in ambush, and a few of the bravest young men were appointed to attack the woodchoppers who were cutting logs to complete the building of the fort. We were told not to kill these men, but to chase them into the fort and retreat slowly, defying the white men; and if the soldiers should follow, we were to lead them into the ambush. They took our bait exactly as we had hoped! It was a matter of a very few minutes, for every soldier lay dead in a shorter time than it takes to annihilate a small herd of buffalo.

"This attack was hastened because most of the Sioux on the Missouri River and eastward had begun to talk of suing for peace. But even this did not stop the peace movement. The very next year a treaty was signed at Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, by nearly all the Sioux chiefs, in which it was agreed on the part of the Great Father in Washington that all the country north of the Republican River in Nebraska, including the Black Hills and the Big Horn Mountains, was to be always Sioux country, and no white man should intrude upon it without our permission. Even with this agreement Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were not satisfied, and they would not sign. "Up to this time I had fought in some important battles, but had achieved no great deed. I was ambitious to make a name for myself. I joined war parties against the Crows, Mandans, Gros Ventres, and Pawnees, and gained some little distinction.

"It was when the white men found the yellow metal in our country, and came in great numbers, driving away our game, that we took up arms against them for the last time. I must say here that the chiefs who were loudest for war were among the first to submit and accept reservation life. Spotted Tail was a great warrior, yet he was one of the first to yield, because he was promised by the Chief Soldiers that they would make him chief of all the Sioux. Ugh! he would have stayed with Sitting Bull to the last had it not been for his ambition.

"About this time we young warriors began to watch the trails of the white men into the Black Hills, and when we saw a wagon coming we would hide at the crossing and kill them all without much trouble. We did this to discourage the whites from coming into our country without our permission. It was the duty of our Great Father at Washington, by the agreement of 1868, to keep his white children away.

"During the troublesome time after this treaty, which no one seemed to respect, either white or Indian [but the whites broke it first], I was like many other young men -- much on the warpath, but with little honor. I had not yet become noted for any great deed. Finally, Wapaypay and I waylaid and killed a white soldier on his way from the fort to his home in the east.

"There were a few Indians who were liars, and never on the warpath, playing 'good Indian' with the Indian agents and the war chiefs at the forts. Some of this faithless set betrayed me, and told more than I ever did. I was seized and taken to the fort near Bismarck, North Dakota [Fort Abraham Lincoln], by a brother [Tom Custer] of the Long-Haired War Chief, and imprisoned there. These same lying Indians, who were selling their services as scouts to the white man, told me that I was to be shot to death, or else hanged upon a tree. I answered that I was not afraid to die.

"However, there was an old soldier who used to bring my food and stand guard over me -- he was a white man, it is true, but he had an Indian heart! He came to me one day and unfastened the iron chain and ball with which they had locked my leg, saying by signs and what little Sioux he could muster: "'Go, friend! take the chain and ball with you. I shall shoot, but the voice of the gun will lie.'

"When he had made me understand, you may guess that I ran my best! I was almost over the bank when he fired his piece at me several times, but I had already gained cover and was safe. I have never told this before, and would not, lest it should do him an injury, but he was an old man then, and I am sure he must be dead long since. That old soldier taught me that some of the white people have hearts," he added, quite seriously.

"I went back to Standing Rock in the night, and I had to hide for several days in the woods, where food was brought to me by my relatives. The Indian police were ordered to retake me, and they pretended to hunt for me, but really they did not, for if they had found me I would have died with one or two of them, and they knew it! In a few days I departed with several others, and we rejoined the hostile camp on the Powder River and made some trouble for the men who were building the great iron track north of us [Northern Pacific].

"In the spring the hostile Sioux got together again upon the Tongue River. It was one of the greatest camps of the Sioux that I ever saw. There were some Northern Cheyennes with us, under Two Moon, and a few Santee Sioux, renegades from Canada, under Inkpaduta, who had killed white people in Iowa long before. We had decided to fight the white soldiers until no warrior should be left."

At this point Rain-in-the-Face took up his tobacco pouch and began again to fill his pipe.

"Of course the younger warriors were delighted with the prospect of a great fight! Our scouts had discovered piles of oats for horses and other supplies near the Missouri River. They had been brought by the white man's fire-boats. Presently they reported a great army about a day's travel to the south, with Shoshone and Crow scouts.

"There was excitement among the people, and a great council was held. Many spoke. I was asked the condition of those Indians who had gone upon the reservation, and I told them truly that they were nothing more than prisoners. It was decided to go out and meet Three Stars [General Crook] at a safe distance from our camp.

"We met him on the Little Rosebud. I believe that if we had waited and allowed him to make the attack, he would have fared no better than Custer. He was too strongly fortified where he was, and I think, too, that he was saved partly by his Indian allies, for the scouts discovered us first and fought us first, thus giving him time to make his preparations. I think he was more wise than brave! After we had left that neighborhood he might have pushed on and connected with the Long-Haired Chief. That would have saved Custer and perhaps won the day.

"When we crossed from Tongue River to the Little Big Horn, on account of the scarcity of game, we did not anticipate any more trouble. Our runners had discovered that Crook had retraced his trail to Goose Creek, and we did not suppose that the white men would care to follow us farther into the rough country.

"Suddenly the Long-Haired Chief appeared with his men! It was a surprise." "What part of the camp were you in when the soldiers attacked the lower end?" I asked.

"I had been invited to a feast at one of the young men's lodges [a sort of club]. There was a certain warrior who was making preparations to go against the Crows, and I had decided to go also," he said.

"While I was eating my meat we heard the war cry! We all rushed out, and saw a warrior riding at top speed from the lower camp, giving the warning as he came. Then we heard the reports of the soldiers' guns, which sounded differently from the guns fired by our people in battle.

"I ran to my teepee and seized my gun, a bow, and a quiver full of arrows. I already had my stone war club, for you know we usually carry those by way of ornament. Just as I was about to set out to meet Reno, a body of soldiers appeared nearly opposite us, at the edge of a long line of cliffs across the river.

"All of us who were mounted and ready immediately started down the stream toward the ford. There were Ogallalas, Minneconjous, Cheyennes, and some Unkpapas, and those around me seemed to be nearly all very young men. "'Behold, there is among us a young woman!' I shouted. 'Let no young man hide behind her garment!' I knew that would make those young men brave. "The woman was Tashenamani, or Moving Robe, whose brother had just been killed in the fight with Three Stars. Holding her brother's war staff over her head, and leaning forward upon her charger, she looked as pretty as a bird. Always when there is a woman in the charge, it causes the warriors to vie with one another in displaying their valor," he added.

"The foremost warriors had almost surrounded the white men, and more were continually crossing the stream. The soldiers had dismounted, and were firing into the camp from the top of the cliff."

"My friend, was Sitting Bull in this fight?" I inquired.

"I did not see him there, but I learned afterward that he was among those who met Reno, and that was three or four of the white man's miles from Custer's position. Later he joined the attack upon Custer, but was not among the foremost.

"When the troops were surrounded on two sides, with the river on the third, the order came to charge! There were many very young men, some of whom had only a war staff or a stone war club in hand, who plunged into the column, knocking the men over and stampeding their horses.

"The soldiers had mounted and started back, but when the onset came they dismounted again and separated into several divisions, facing different ways. They fired as fast as they could load their guns, while we used chiefly arrows and war clubs. There seemed to be two distinct movements among the Indians. One body moved continually in a circle, while the other rode directly into and through the troops.

"Presently some of the soldiers remounted and fled along the ridge toward Reno's position; but they were followed by our warriors, like hundreds of blackbirds after a hawk. A larger body remained together at the upper end of a little ravine, and fought bravely until they were cut to pieces. I had always thought that white men were cowards, but I had a great respect for them after this day.

"It is generally said that a young man with nothing but a war staff in his hand broke through the column and knocked down the leader very early in the fight. We supposed him to be the leader, because he stood up in full view, swinging his big knife [sword] over his head, and talking loud. Some one unknown afterwards shot the chief, and he was probably killed also; for if not, he would have told of the deed, and called others to witness it. So it is that no one knows who killed the Long-Haired Chief [General Custer]. "After the first rush was over, coups were counted as usual on the bodies of the slain. You know four coups [or blows] can be counted on the body of an enemy, and whoever counts the first one [touches it for the first time] is entitled to the 'first feather.'

"There was an Indian here called Appearing Elk, who died a short time ago. He was slightly wounded in the charge. He had some of the weapons of the Long-Haired Chief, and the Indians used to say jokingly after we came upon the reservation that Appearing Elk must have killed the Chief, because he had his sword! However, the scramble for plunder did not begin until all were dead. I do not think he killed Custer, and if he had, the time to claim the honor was immediately after the fight.

"Many lies have been told of me. Some say that I killed the Chief, and others that I cut out the heart of his brother [Tom Custer], because he had caused me to be imprisoned. Why, in that fight the excitement was so great that we scarcely recognized our nearest friends! Everything was done like lightning. After the battle we young men were chasing horses all over the prairie, while the old men and women plundered the bodies; and if any mutilating was done, it was by the old men.

"I have lived peaceably ever since we came upon the reservation. No one can say that Rain-in-the-Face has broken the rules of the Great Father. I fought for my people and my country. When we were conquered I remained silent, as a warrior should. Rain-in-the-Face was killed when he put down his weapons before the Great Father. His spirit was gone then; only his poor body lived on, but now it is almost ready to lie down for the last time. Ho, hechetu! [It is well.]"


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Satanta (1830-1878)

October 11, 1874: Satanta has become despondent about his life-term in the Huntsville, Texas, prison. He has slashed his wrists trying to kill himself, but he is unsuccessful. He will be admitted to the prison hospital. Today, Satanta will jump from a second floor balcony. He will land head first, and die.

(Image courtesy of

Background From

Satanta (Set-T'ainte), 1830-1878

Born on the Northern Plains, Satanta ("White Bear Person") was the son of Red Tepee, who was the keeper of the Tai-me, the Kiowa medicine bundles. During his boyhood, he was known as Guaton-bain or "Big Ribs". He was a young man when a prominent warrior, Black Horse, presented him with a war shield that he used while raiding in Texas and Mexico. During the early days of the Civil War, he conducted many raids along the Santa Fe Trail. He would later become a principal chief in the Kiowa Wars of the 1860s-1870s and was known as "The Orator of the Plains."

When Little Mountain died in 1866, Satanta became the leader of the war faction of the Kiowas. His rival was Kicking Bird of the peace faction. As a result of his rivalry, Lone Wolf became the compromise choice for the position of principal chief. Meanwhile, Satanta and his warriors continued raiding in Texas.

Famed for his eloquence, Satanta spoke at the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 where the Kiowas ceded their lands in the valleys of the Canadian and Arkansas Rivers and agreed to settle on a reservation within Indian Territory. However, some of the Kiowas were slow to move onto their lands in Indian Territory. When Satanta came under a flag of truce to tell the U.S. Army that he had not been with Black Kettle at the Battle of the Washita, General Philip H. Sheridan held him and several other leaders as hostages until their bands had relocated to Indian Territory. In May 1871, Satanta was in a war party that attacked the Warren wagon train with Satank, Big Tree and Mamanti.

Later Big Tree, Satank and Satanta were seized for trial after bragging openly about their exploits. Satank tried to escape on the road to Texas; he was fatally shot. Big Tree and Satanta went to trial and were sentenced to death. Indian rights groups objected to the harsh penalties, however. The Bureau of Indian Affairs even contended that they should be released because their actions were associated with war and not murder. In 1873, they were paroled on a pledge of good behavior for themselves and the entire Kiowa tribe. However, Kiowa, Comanche, Cheyenne, and Arapaho war parties renewed their raids on white settlers under the Comanche leader Quanah Parker. These actions started the Red River War of 1874-1875. Satanta tried to prove to army officials that he was not a party to the raids. In September 1874, Big Tree appeared at the Cheyenne Agency at Darlington to state that Satanta wished to surrender peacefully.

True to his word, Satanta surrendered the next month. Although it appears that he had not violated the terms of his parole, Satanta was taken into custody and then imprisoned at Huntsville, Texas. On October 11, 1878, sick, tired, and despairing that he would ever be released, Satanta jumped off the upper floor of the prison hospital and committed suicide. The proud and dignified warrior was buried in Texas. His grandson, James Auchiah, received permission in 1963 to bring Satanta's remains to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, so that he could be interred with other Kiowa chiefs.



SET-T'AINTE (Satanta, White Bear)

In April, 1864, a government physician was sent out among the tribes to vaccinate them as a protection from small pox which had recently decimated them. He found them all apparently friendly and spent some time in the camp of Set-T'ainte (Satanta).

At this time, the civil war was going on and Texas was fighting the general govenrment, which confirmed the Indians in their belief that Texans and Americans were two distinct and hostile Nations.

In 1871, a large raiding party killed seven white men in Texas and captured a number of mules. Upon their return, the leaders bragged about their deeds in the presence of the agent and General Sherman, who promptly arrested the the 3 most prominent, Set-angya (Santank, Setting Bear), Set-t'ainte, (Satanta, White Bear) and Ado-eette (Big Tree). They were to be taken to Texas for trial and punishment. Set-angya resisted and was killed. The other two were sent to Texas, tried and sent to prison.

Satanta and Big Tree were finally released by the governor of Texas in October 1873. In 1874, reports of raids started coming in and by Novemeber, Satanta was captured and sent back to prison in Texas. In 1878, 4 years after his caprure, Satanta committed suicide by jumping from the upper story of the prison. His death removed one of the most prominent chiefs in Kiowa history, the most daring and succesful Warrior. While in authority, he was second only to Lone Wolf. His eloquence and expression in his native language earned him the title "Orator of the Plains."

Information from "The Ten Grandmothers" by Alice Marriott, published by University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1945; and "Calender History of the Kiowa Indians" by James Mooney, published by Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. from reports, 1895-1896. Copyright, 1998-2001

NOTICE: Ethel Taylor grants that this information and data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material, for personal and genealogical research. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit, can not be copied over to other sites, linked to, or other presentation without written permission of Ethel Taylor.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Red Cloud

September 20, 1822: Red Cloud was born on this date.

(Image courtesy of

Words Spoken - Red Cloud

"When we first made treaties with the Government, this was our position: Our old life and our old customs were about to end; the game upon which we lived was disappearing; the whites were closing around us, and nothing remained for us but to adopt their ways and have the same rights with them if we wished to save ourselves."


Excerpt from: Red Cloud, As remembered by Ohiyesa (Charles A. Eastman)

Red Cloud was born about 1819 near the forks of the Platte River. He was one of a family of nine children whose father, an able and respected warrior, reared his son under the old Spartan regime. The young Red Cloud is said to have been a fine horseman, able to swim across the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, of high bearing and unquestionable courage, yet invariably gentle and courteous in everyday life. This last trait, together with a singularly musical and agreeable voice, has always been characteristic of the man ...

... I once asked Red Cloud if he could recall having ever been afraid, and in reply he told me this story. He was about sixteen years old and had already been once or twice upon the warpath, when one fall his people were hunting in the Big Horn country, where they might expect trouble at any moment with the hostile Crows or Shoshones. Red Cloud had followed a single buffalo bull into the Bad Lands and was out of sight and hearing of his companions. When he had brought down his game, he noted carefully every feature of his surroundings so that he might at once detect anything unusual, and tied his horse with a long lariat to the horn of the dead bison, while skinning and cutting up the meat so as to pack it to camp. Every few minutes he paused in his work to scrutinize the landscape, for he had a feeling that danger was not far off.

Suddenly, almost over his head, as it seemed, he heard a tremendous war whoop, and glancing sidewise, thought he beheld the charge of an overwhelming number of warriors. He tried desperately to give the usual undaunted war whoop in reply, but instead a yell of terror burst from his lips, his legs gave way under him, and he fell in a heap. When he realized, the next instant, that the war whoop was merely the sudden loud whinnying of his own horse, and the charging army a band of fleeing elk, he was so ashamed of himself that he never forgot the incident, although up to that time he had never mentioned it. His subsequent career would indicate that the lesson was well learned.

The future leader was still a very young man when he joined a war party against the Utes. Having pushed eagerly forward on the trail, he found himself far in advance of his companions as night came on, and at the same time rain began to fall heavily. Among the scattered scrub pines, the lone warrior found a natural cave, and after a hasty examination, he decided to shelter there for the night.

Scarcely had he rolled himself in his blanket when he heard a slight rustling at the entrance, as if some creature were preparing to share his retreat. It was pitch dark. He could see nothing, but judged that it must be either a man or a grizzly. There was not room to draw a bow. It must be between knife and knife, or between knife and claws, he said to himself. The intruder made no search but quietly lay down in the opposite corner of the cave. Red Cloud remained perfectly still, scarcely breathing, his hand upon his knife. Hour after hour he lay broad awake, while many thoughts passed through his brain. Suddenly, without warning, he sneezed, and instantly a strong man sprang to a sitting posture opposite. The first gray of morning was creeping into their rocky den, and behold! a Ute hunter sat before him.

Desperate as the situation appeared, it was not without a grim humor. Neither could afford to take his eyes from the other's; the tension was great, till at last a smile wavered over the expressionless face of the Ute. Red Cloud answered the smile, and in that instant a treaty of peace was born between them.

"Put your knife in its sheath. I shall do so also, and we will smoke together," signed Red Cloud. The other assented gladly, and they ratified thus the truce which assured to each a safe return to his friends. Having finished their smoke, they shook hands and separated. Neither had given the other any information. Red Cloud returned to his party and told his story, adding that he had divulged nothing and had nothing to report. Some were inclined to censure him for not fighting, but he was sustained by a majority of the warriors, who commended his self-restraint. In a day or two they discovered the main camp of the enemy and fought a remarkable battle, in which Red Cloud especially distinguished himself .

The Sioux were now entering upon the most stormy period of their history. The old things were fast giving place to new. The young men, for the first time engaging in serious and destructive warfare with the neighboring tribes, armed with the deadly weapons furnished by the white man, began to realize that they must soon enter upon a desperate struggle for their ancestral hunting grounds. The old men had been innocently cultivating the friendship of the stranger, saying among themselves, "Surely there is land enough for all!"

Red Cloud was a modest and little known man of about twenty-eight years, when General Harney called all the western bands of Sioux together at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, for the purpose of securing an agreement and right of way through their territory. The Ogalalas held aloof from this proposal, but Bear Bull, an Ogalala chief, after having been plied with whisky, undertook to dictate submission to the rest of the clan. Enraged by failure, he fired upon a group of his own tribesmen, and Red Cloud's father and brother fell dead. According to Indian custom, it fell to him to avenge the deed. Calmly, without uttering a word, he faced old Bear Bull and his son, who attempted to defend his father, and shot them both. He did what he believed to be his duty, and the whole band sustained him. Indeed, the tragedy gave the young man at once a certain standing, as one who not only defended his people against enemies from without, but against injustice and aggression within the tribe. From this time on he was a recognized leader.

Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, then head chief of the Ogalalas, took council with Red Cloud in all important matters, and the young warrior rapidly advanced in authority and influence. In 1854, when he was barely thirty-five years old, the various bands were again encamped near Fort Laramie. A Mormon emigrant train, moving westward, left a footsore cow behind, and the young men killed her for food. The next day, to their astonishment, an officer with thirty men appeared at the Indian camp and demanded of old Conquering Bear that they be given up. The chief in vain protested that it was all a mistake and offered to make reparation. It would seem that either the officer was under the influence of liquor, or else had a mind to bully the Indians, for he would accept neither explanation nor payment, but demanded point-blank that the young men who had killed the cow be delivered up to summary punishment. The old chief refused to be intimidated and was shot dead on the spot. Not one soldier ever reached the gate of Fort Laramie! Here Red Cloud led the young Ogallalas, and so intense was the feeling that they even killed the half-breed interpreter.

Curiously enough, there was no attempt at retaliation on the part of the army, and no serious break until 1860, when the Sioux were involved in troubles with the Cheyennes and Arapahoes. In 1862, a grave outbreak was precipitated by the eastern Sioux in Minnesota under Little Crow, in which the western bands took no part. Yet this event ushered in a new period for their race. The surveyors of the Union Pacific were laying out the proposed road through the heart of the southern buffalo country, the rendezvous of Ogallalas, Brules, Arapahoes, Comanches, and Pawnees, who followed the buffalo as a means of livelihood. To be sure, most of these tribes were at war with one another, yet during the summer months they met often to proclaim a truce and hold joint councils and festivities, which were now largely turned into discussions of the common enemy. It became evident, however, that some of the smaller and weaker tribes were inclined to welcome the new order of things, recognizing that it was the policy of the government to put an end to tribal warfare.

Red Cloud's position was uncompromisingly against submission. He made some noted speeches in this line, one of which was repeated to me by an old man who had heard and remembered it with the remarkable verbal memory of an Indian.

"Friends," said Red Cloud, "it has been our misfortune to welcome the white man. We have been deceived. He brought with him some shining things that pleased our eyes; he brought weapons more effective than our own: above all, he brought the spirit water that makes one forget for a time old age, weakness, and sorrow. But I wish to say to you that if you would possess these things for yourselves, you must begin anew and put away the wisdom of your fathers. You must lay up food, and forget the hungry. When your house is built, your storeroom filled, then look around for a neighbor whom you can take at a disadvantage, and seize all that he has! Give away only what you do not want; or rather, do not part with any of your possessions unless in exchange for another's.

"My countrymen, shall the glittering trinkets of this rich man, his deceitful drink that overcomes the mind, shall these things tempt us to give up our homes, our hunting grounds, and the honorable teaching of our old men? Shall we permit ourselves to be driven to and fro -- to be herded like the cattle of the white man?"

His next speech that has been remembered was made in 1866, just before the attack on Fort Phil Kearny. The tension of feeling against the invaders had now reached its height. There was no dissenting voice in the council upon the Powder River, when it was decided to oppose to the uttermost the evident purpose of the government. Red Cloud was not altogether ignorant of the numerical strength and the resourcefulness of the white man, but he was determined to face any odds rather than submit.

"Hear ye, Dakotas!" he exclaimed. "When the Great Father at Washington sent us his chief soldier [General Harney] to ask for a path through our hunting grounds, a way for his iron road to the mountains and the western sea, we were told that they wished merely to pass through our country, not to tarry among us, but to seek for gold in the far west. Our old chiefs thought to show their friendship and good will, when they allowed this dangerous snake in our midst. They promised to protect the wayfarers.

"Yet before the ashes of the council fire are cold, the Great Father is building his forts among us. You have heard the sound of the white soldier's ax upon the Little Piney. His presence here is an insult and a threat. It is an insult to the spirits of our ancestors. Are we then to give up their sacred graves to be plowed for corn? Dakotas, I am for war!"

In less than a week after this speech, the Sioux advanced upon Fort Phil Kearny, the new sentinel that had just taken her place upon the farthest frontier, guarding the Oregon Trail. Every detail of the attack had been planned with care, though not without heated discussion, and nearly every well-known Sioux chief had agreed in striking the blow. The brilliant young war leader, Crazy Horse, was appointed to lead the charge. His lieutenants were Sword, Hump, and Dull Knife, with Little Chief of the Cheyennes, while the older men acted as councilors. Their success was instantaneous. In less than half an hour, they had cut down nearly a hundred men under Captain Fetterman, whom they drew out of the fort by a ruse and then annihilated.

Instead of sending troops to punish, the government sent a commission to treat with the Sioux. The result was the famous treaty of 1868, which Red Cloud was the last to sign, having refused to do so until all of the forts within their territory should be vacated. All of his demands were acceded to, the new road abandoned, the garrisons withdrawn, and in the new treaty it was distinctly stated that the Black Hills and the Big Horn were Indian country, set apart for their perpetual occupancy, and that no white man should enter that region without the consent of the Sioux.

Scarcely was this treaty signed, however, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills, and the popular cry was: "Remove the Indians!" This was easier said than done. That very territory had just been solemnly guaranteed to them forever: yet how stem the irresistible rush for gold? The government, at first, entered some small protest, just enough to "save its face" as the saying is; but there was no serious attempt to prevent the wholesale violation of the treaty. It was this state of affairs that led to the last great speech made by Red Cloud, at a gathering upon the Little Rosebud River. It is brief, and touches upon the hopelessness of their future as a race. He seems at about this time to have reached the conclusion that resistance could not last much longer; in fact, the greater part of the Sioux nation was already under government control.

"We are told," said he, "that Spotted Tail has consented to be the Beggars' Chief. Those Indians who go over to the white man can be nothing but beggars, for he respects only riches, and how can an Indian be a rich man? He cannot without ceasing to be an Indian. As for me, I have listened patiently to the promises of the Great Father, but his memory is short. I am now done with him. This is all I have to say."

The wilder bands separated soon after this council, to follow the drift of the buffalo, some in the vicinity of the Black Hills and others in the Big Horn region. Small war parties came down from time to time upon stray travelers, who received no mercy at their hands, or made dashes upon neighboring forts. Red Cloud claimed the right to guard and hold by force, if need be, all this territory which had been conceded to his people by the treaty of 1868. The land became a very nest of outlawry. Aside from organized parties of prospectors, there were bands of white horse thieves and desperadoes who took advantage of the situation to plunder immigrants and Indians alike.

An attempt was made by means of military camps to establish control and force all the Indians upon reservations, and another commission was sent to negotiate their removal to Indian Territory, but met with an absolute refusal. After much guerrilla warfare, an important military campaign against the Sioux was set on foot in 1876, ending in Custer's signal defeat upon the Little Big Horn.

In this notable battle, Red Cloud did not participate in person, nor in the earlier one with Crook upon the Little Rosebud, but he had a son in both fights. He was now a councilor rather than a warrior, but his young men were constantly in the field, while Spotted Tail had definitely surrendered and was in close touch with representatives of the government. But the inevitable end was near. One morning in the fall of 1876 Red Cloud was surrounded by United States troops under the command of Colonel McKenzie, who disarmed his people and brought them into Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Thence they were removed to the Pine Ridge agency, where he lived for more than thirty years as a "reservation Indian." In order to humiliate him further, government authorities proclaimed the more tractable Spotted Tail head chief of the Sioux. Of course, Red Cloud's own people never recognized any other chief.

In 1880 he appealed to Professor Marsh, of Yale, head of a scientific expedition to the Bad Lands, charging certain frauds at the agency and apparently proving his case; at any rate the matter was considered worthy of official investigation. In 1890-1891, during the "Ghost Dance craze" and the difficulties that followed, he was suspected of collusion with the hostiles, but he did not join them openly, and nothing could be proved against him. He was already an old man, and became almost entirely blind before his death in 1909 in his ninetieth year.

His private life was exemplary. He was faithful to one wife all his days, and was a devoted father to his children. He was ambitious for his only son, known as Jack Red Cloud, and much desired him to be a great warrior. He started him on the warpath at the age of fifteen, not then realizing that the days of Indian warfare were well-nigh at an end.

Among latter-day chiefs, Red Cloud was notable as a quiet man, simple and direct in speech, courageous in action, an ardent lover of his country, and possessed in a marked degree of the manly qualities characteristic of the American Indian in his best days.

(Image courtesy of


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Leonard Peltier's 62

A Special Message from Leonard Peltier:


Greetings Sisters, Brothers, Friends and Supporters!

Well here it is another year. Another birthday. This one makes me 62 years old. Also this makes it my thirty plus years in prison. I believe it was right after I was illegally convicted in Fargo, North Dokota when I wrote a statement telling everyone that my freedom would only come after the masses had demanded it. But first we would have to unite and organize, to reach them.

So far we have been unable to do so. Yes we have reached millions who have signed my petitions we have circulated throughout the world asking for my release. True most of those good peoples are from Europe, but we have also made a lot of gains here in the United States. At one time we had fifty five (55) members of Congress sign a letter for a new trial or my release. Fifty-five members is historical. No other prisoner in history has ever been able to accomplish this, nor has anyone else, individually I mean, and there are other accomplishments we have made and won here in the United States. Still I sit in prison not because I am guilty of the alleged crime I was illegally convicted of but because we still are unable to reach the masses here in America. The reason for this is not because the American people do not care or want to help, but because we have been unable to reach them. Personally I believe the majority of them do care and want to help. We sense this from the ones we are able to reach. We are moving forward very slowly in this freedom campaign of mine. The reason is we just do not have the financial resources to move forward at the pace we would like to be. This is the real and only reason that we have not been able to reach the people in the United States. Nothing is free here in America, not justice or the media. So although there is still no light at the end of the tunnel for me or my freedom, we continue struggling forward. I continue to search for the hope and strength I need to survive. I continue to pray and hope that one day I will get the support I need from the American people and one day I will still be able to walk out of prison. So my hopes and spirits are still high at my 62 years of age. I continue on this continued struggle. We are still finding bits and pieces of new evidence to file new appeals on. Those of you who have followed my case closely I can imagine are thinking How can this be, as there has been so many constitutional violations already. But the same old problem exists. The courts continue to cover up the continued criminal acts of my conviction committed by my prosecutors.

Your help is needed, Give what you can.

In the Spirit of Crazy Horse,

Leonard Peltier

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tasunka Witko

September 6, 1877: Crazy Horse died (Army records show night of September 7th.)


Words Spoken: Tasunka Witko (Crazy Horse):

"A very great vision is needed and the man who has it must follow it as the eagle seeks the deepest blue of the sky. I was hostile to the white man...we preferred hunting to a life of idleness on our reservations. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to hunt. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers came and destroyed our villages. Then Long Hair (Custer) came...They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same to us. Our first impulse was to escape but we were so hemmed in we had to fight."

( There is no known photograph of Tasunka Witko; this is the earliest drawing of him. )


>From , and at this website there is audio version of the discussion with George Kills In Sight.

George Kills in Sight: Crazy Horse is sort of related to my grandmother on my father's side. My father's mother is cousin to Crazy Horse. Of course now everybody seems to claim relation to Crazy Horse, but it used to be the fact that my grandmother is cousin to Crazy Horse. And my grandfather was along in northern part of the state where, now known as the Cheyenne River Reservation. Him and others were up on the hunt scouting around when they come back they were told. In the meantime Pine Ridge, members of the Pine Ridge Indians, went up there and told Crazy Horse that he's wanted down to ...

Joseph Cash: Fort Robinson?

Kills in Sight: Someplace where, yeah, Fort Robertson. So ah . . . he kind of hesitated but finally they talked him into it, so they left. When that hunting party -- my grandfather's Big Crow -- when they come back they were told. So right away they didn't waste no time, they, they followed them -- which is about almost a day ahead of them. But they traveled during nights too, and just as the, the party got to Fort Robertson, they caught up to them. They caught up to them and ah, my grandfather, Big Crow, he had a six-shooter with a holster along with cartridges. He told him, he said, ?Brother-in law,? he said, ?put this on,? he said. ?You might need it 'cause something is going to be happening.? So he put it on his waist and then they, they didn't go in with him, but they stand so far and the guards stopped them, and they turn over to the . . . those Pine Ridge members that went after him escorted him to, to the . . . instead of taking him to the Army officer, they take him to . . . right straight to the jail. So there's two guards on each side of the gate. And this Pine Ridge, members of the Pine Ridge, that escorted him, they told him that was a jail -- in Indian. So he turned around, and this guard -- he was a white soldier -- just run his bayonet through, through the guts. He didn't shoot him or anything, just ...

Cash: Bayoneted him?

Kills in Sight: Killed him there. They just let him lay there, and of course he was dead. So, my grandfather and his bunch, they was from Cheyenne. They went up there and they claimed the body. He . . . the mistake that the Army did was they should be turned over and taken to the Army officer . . . and then later he probably could be thrown in jail maybe. But still . . . just taken back to the jail, without proving no questions about why he was wanted.

Cash: Yeah. And what happened to the body then?

Kills in Sight: My grandfather and his, his bunch claimed the body and they took it. They told them to just to take it out so . . . They made a travois and brought it, brought him home. And they brought him home to the, to the camp where the Northern Cheyenne Siouxs are and his father and mother took it over. And then they bound him up in, in buffalo robe -- tied with rawhide rope -- and wherever they go. . . they took him along. They didn't bury him. And the way they told . . . they had him almost a month. I don't know how they could tell but the change of the moon or they . . . he kept. But he wasn't spoiled; the body was preserved.

So finally the leaders got together and on the Pine Ridge Reservation -- now known as, as Medicine -- right around in that pines, in the breaks or someplace, they camped. And they asked the father of Crazy Horse to bury his son. So he agreed to it, that he's going bury his son but under one condition: he has to fill his pipe, and those that would not tell -- ever tell where he was going to be buried -- will smoke the pipe with him. Just like that: they pledged themselves not to tell the place he was to go and be buried. So ah, but those that's gonna tell, they might as well leave because he's not gonna bury him. So those big crowd thin out, just a few stayed and smoked the pipe.

So they dug a hole in a kind of washout, like a ravine, close up to a ridge. They dug that under there, a kind of stone. So they dug way under there and they left the body in there. They laid the body in there, and then put rocks just tight, you know, and put dirt on there, and fixed it so that nobody ever think there was a grave there. So, that's why when they fixed that monument they wanted to know where he was buried but nobody will tell. Those that were present at the time will never tell.

Courtesy of the Institute of American Indian Studies, South Dakota Oral History Center, University of South Dakota.


>From Glenn Welker's site:

While Sitting Bull was pursued into Canada, Crazy Horse and the Cheyennes wandered about, comparatively undisturbed, during the rest of that year, until in the winter the army surprised the Cheyennes, but did not do them much harm, possibly because they knew that Crazy Horse was not far off. His name was held in wholesome respect. From time to time, delegations of friendly Indians were sent to him, to urge him to come in to the reservation, promising a full hearing and fair treatment.

For some time he held out, but the rapid disappearance of the buffalo, their only means of support, probably weighed with him more than any other influence. In July, 1877, he was finally prevailed upon to come in to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, with several thousand Indians, most of them Ogallala and Minneconwoju Sioux, on the distinct understanding that the government would hear and adjust their grievances.

At this juncture General Crook proclaimed Spotted Tail, who had rendered much valuable service to the army, head chief of the Sioux, which was resented by many. The attention paid Crazy Horse was offensive to Spotted Tail and the Indian scouts, who planned a conspiracy against him. They reported to General Crook that the young chief would murder him at the next council, and stampede the Sioux into another war. He was urged not to attend the council and did not, but sent another officer to represent him. Meanwhile the friends of Crazy Horse discovered the plot and told him of it. His reply was, "Only cowards are murderers."

His wife was critically ill at the time, and he decided to take her to her parents at Spotted Tail agency, whereupon his enemies circulated the story that he had fled, and a party of scouts was sent after him. They overtook him riding with his wife and one other but did not undertake to arrest him, and after he had left the sick woman with her people he went to call on Captain Lea, the agent for the Brules, accompanied by all the warriors of the Minneconwoju band. This volunteer escort made an imposing appearance on horseback, shouting and singing, and in the words of Captain Lea himself and the missionary, the Reverend Mr. Cleveland, the situation was extremely critical. Indeed, the scouts who had followed Crazy Horse from Red Cloud agency were advised not to show themselves, as some of the warriors had urged that they be taken out and horsewhipped publicly. Under these circumstances Crazy Horse again showed his masterful spirit by holding these young men in check. He said to them in his quiet way: "It is well to be brave in the field of battle; it is cowardly to display bravery against one's own tribesmen. These scouts have been compelled to do what they did; they are no better than servants of the white officers. I came here on a peaceful errand."

The captain urged him to report at army headquarters to explain himself and correct false rumors, and on his giving consent, furnished him with a wagon and escort. It has been said that he went back under arrest, but this is untrue. Indians have boasted that they had a hand in bringing him in, but their stories are without foundation. He went of his own accord, either suspecting no treachery or determined to defy it.

When he reached the military camp, Little Big Man walked arm-in-arm with him, and his cousin and friend, Touch-the-Cloud, was just in advance. After they passed the sentinel, an officer approached them and walked on his other side. He was unarmed but for the knife which is carried for ordinary uses by women as well as men. Unsuspectingly he walked toward the guardhouse, when Touch-the-Cloud suddenly turned back exclaiming: "Cousin, they will put you in prison!" "Another white man's trick! Let me go! Let me die fighting!" cried Crazy Horse. He stopped and tried to free himself and draw his knife, but both arms were held fast by Little Big Man and the officer. While he struggled thus, a soldier thrust him through with his bayonet from behind. The wound was mortal, and he died in the course of that night, his old father singing the death song over him and afterward carrying away the body, which they said must not be further polluted by the touch of a white man. They hid it somewhere in the Bad Lands, his resting place to this day.

Thus died one of the ablest and truest American Indians. His life was ideal; his record clean. He was never involved in any of the numerous massacres on the trail, but was a leader in practically every open fight. Such characters as those of Crazy Horse and Chief Joseph are not easily found among so-called civilized people. The reputation of great men is apt to be shadowed by questionable motives and policies, but here are two pure patriots, as worthy of honor as any who ever breathed God's air in the wide spaces of a new world.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea)

"Our wise men are called Fathers, and they truly sustain that character. Do you call yourselves Christians? Does the religion of Him who you call your Savior inspire your spirit, and guide your practices? Surely not.

It is recorded of him that a bruised reed he never broke. Cease then to call yourselves Christians, lest you declare to the world your hypocrisy. Cease too to call other nations savage, when you are tenfold more the children of cruelty than they.

No person among us desires any other reward for performing a brave and worthwhile action, but the consciousness of having served his nation.

I bow to no man for I am considered a prince among my own people. But I will gladly shake your hand."

Joseph Brant to King George III

The Story of Joseph Brant
by Tom Penick

The Mohawk Indian chief Joseph Brant served as a spokesman for his people, a Christian missionary of the Anglican church, and a British military officer during the U.S. War of Independence. He is remembered for his efforts in unifying upper New York Indian tribes and leading them in terrorizing raids against patriot communities in support of Great Britian's efforts to repress the rebellion. He is also credited for the establishment of the Indian reservation on the Grand River in Canada where the neighboring town of Brantford, Ontario, bears his name.

Brant was born in 1742 on the banks of the Ohio River and given the Indian name of Thayendanegea, meaning "he places two bets." He inherited the status of Mohawk chief from his father. He attended Moor's Charity School for Indians in Lebanon, Connecticut, where he learned to speak English and studied Western history and literature. He became an interpreter for an Anglican Missionary, the Reverend John Stuart, and together they translated the prayer book and the Gospel of Mark into Mohawk. Molly Brant, Joseph's sister, married General Sir William Johnson who was the British superintendent for northern Indian affairs. Sir William was called to duty during the last French and Indian War of 1754-1763. Joseph followed Sir William into battle at the age of 13, along with the other Indian braves at the school.

Following this frightening experience, Joseph returned to school for a short period. Sir William had need of an interpreter and aid in his business with the Indians and employed Joseph in this prestigious position. In his work with Sir William, Joseph discovered a trading company that was buying discarded guns from the Army, filling cracks in the barrels with lead, and then selling them to Indians. The guns would explode when fired, often injuring the owner. Joseph was able to prove this in court and the trading company's license was revoked.

It was the custom for young men not to marry until they had made their mark, and Joseph was now prepared to choose a wife. Around 1768 he married Christine, the daughter of an Oneida chief, whom he had met in school. They had both Indian and Anglican wedding ceremonies and lived on a farm which Joseph had inherited. Christine died of tuberculosis around 1771, leaving Joseph with a son and a daughter. During this time, Joseph resumed his religous work, translating the Acts of the Apostles into the Mohawk language. In 1773, he married Susannah, sister of his first wife. Susannah died a few months later, also of tuberculosis. In 1774 he was appointed secretary to Sir William's successor, Guy Johnson. In 1775 he received a captain's commission and was sent to England to assess whether the British would or would not help the Mohawk recover their lands. He met with the King on two occasions and a dinner was held in his honor.

While in England, Brant attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet. Lady Ossory, a member of a famous Irish family, asked him, "What do you think of that kind of love-making, Captain Brant?" He replied, "There is too much of it, your ladyship." "Why do you say that?', and Joseph answered quickly, "Because, your ladyship, no lover worth a lady's while would waste his time and breath in all that speech-making. If my people were to make love in that way our race would be extinct in two generations." [Monture, p. 36]

On his return to the colonies, he saw action in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776. He led four of the six nations of the Iroquois League in attacks against colonial outposts on the New York frontier. The Iroquois League was a confederation of upper New York State Indian tribes formed between 1570 and 1600 who called themselves "the people of the long house." Initially it was composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca. After the Tuscarora joined in 1722, the league became known to the English as the Six Nations and was recognized as such in Albany, New York, in 1722. They were better organized and more effective, especially in warfare, than other Indian confederacies in the region. As the longevity of this union would suggest, these Indians were more advanced socially than is often thought. Benjamin Franklin even cited their success in his argument for the unification of the colonies. They lived in comfortable homes, often better than those of the colonists, raised crops, and sent hunters to Ohio to supply meat for those living back in New York. These hunters were usually young braves or young married couples, as was the case with Joseph Brant's parents.

During the U.S. War of Independence a split developed in the Iroquois league, with the Oneida and Tuscarora favoring the American cause while the others fought for the British under the leadership of Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. A few of the leaders favored a neutral stance, preferring to let the white men kill each other rather than become involved. Brant feared that the Indians would lose their lands if the colonists achieved independence. Basic to animosities between Indians and whites was the difference in views over land ownership. The Indians felt that the land was for the use of everyone and so initially saw no reason to not welcome the Europeans. The colonists, on the other hand, were well acquainted with the priviledges of ownership (or lack thereof) and were eager to acquire land of their own.

Brant commanded the Indians in the Battle of Oriskany on August 6, 1777. In early 1778 he gathered a force of Indians from the villages of Unadilla and Oquaga on the Susquehanna River. On September 17, 1778 they destroyed German Flats near Herkimer, New York. The patriots retalliated under the leadership of Col. William Butler and destroyed Unadilla and Oquaga on October 8th and 10th. Brant's forces, along with loyalists under Capt. Walter N. Butler, then set out to destroy the town and fort at Cherry Valley. There were 200-300 men stationed at the fort but they were unprepared for the attack on August 11, 1778. The attackers killed some 30 men, women, and children, burned houses, and took 71 prisoners. They killed 16 soldiers at the fort but withdrew the following day when 200 patriot reinforcements arrived. The settlement was abandoned and the event came to be known as the "Cherry Valley Massacre." Brant won a formidable reputation after this raid and in cooperation with loyalists and British regulars, he brought fear and destruction to the entire Mohawk Valley, southern New York, and northern Pennsylvania. He thwarted the attempts of a rival chief, Red Jacket, to persuade the Iroquois to make peace with the revolutionaries. In 1779, U.S. Major General John Sullivan led a retaliatory expedition of 3700 men against the Iroquois, destroying fields, orchards, granaries, and their morale. The Iroquois were defeated near present-day Elmira, N.Y. In spite of this, Indian raids persisted until the end of the war and many homesteads had to abandoned. The Iroquois League came to an end after admitting defeat in the Second Treaty of Ft. Stanwix in 1784.

Around 1782, Brant married his third wife, Catherine Croghan, daughter of an Irishman and a Mohawk. With the war over, and the British having surrendered lands to the colonists and not to the Indians, Brant was faced with finding a new home for himself and his people. He discouraged further Indian warfare and helped the U.S. commissioners to secure peace treaties with the Miamis and other tribes. He retained his commission in the British Army and was awarded a grant of land on the Grand River in Ontario by Govenor Sir Frederick Haldimand of Canada in 1784. The tract of 675,000 acres encompassed the Grand River from its mouth to its source, six miles deep on either side. Brant led 1843 Iroquois Loyalists from New York State to this site where they settled and established the Grand River Reservation for the Mohawk. The party included members of all six tribes, but primarily Mohawk and Cayugas, as well as a few Delaware, Nanticoke, Tutelo, Creek, and Cherokee, who had lived with the Iroquois before the war. They settled in small tribal villages along the river. Sir Haldimand had hurriedly pushed through the land agreement before his term of office expired and was unable to provide the Indians with legal title to the property. For this reason, Brant again traveled to England in 1785. He succeeded in obtaining compensation for Mohawk losses in the U.S. War for Independence and received funds for the first Episcopal Church in Upper Canada, but failed to obtain firm title to the Grand River reservation. The legality of the transfer remains under question today.

Her Majesty's Chapel of the Mohawks was built in 1785 at the order of King George III. The simple wooden structure survives today as the oldest Protestant church in Ontario and is the only church outside the United Kingdom with the status of Chapel Royal. The church contains some lavish appointments including a silver service and bible dating from 1712 when Queen Anne had a church erected for the Mohawk on the Mohawk River in New York. Also erected for the Indians in 1785 was a saw and grist mill and a school.

Brant continued with his missionary work. He felt that his followers could learn much from observing the ways of the white man and made a number of land sales of reservation property to white settlers to this end, despite the unsettled ownership. He tried unsuccessfully to arrange a settlement between the Iroquois and the United States. He traveled in the American West promoting an all-Indian confederacy to resist land cessions. Late in his life, he continued the work he had begun as a young man of translating the Creed and important passages of the Old and New Testament into the Mohawk language. He was a man who studied and was able to internalize the better qualities of the white man while always remaining loyal and devoted to his people. Joseph Brant died on the reservation on August 24, 1807.



1. "Brant, Joseph," Dictionary of American Biography, 1927.

2. "Brant, Joseph," The Encyclopedia Americana, 1992.

3. "Brant, Joseph," The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991.

4. "Brantford," The New Encyclopedia Britannica, 1991.

5. "Cherry Valley Massacre," The Encyclopedia Americana, 1992.

6. Flick, A.C., "The Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779," History of the State of New York, 1933-1937.

7. Green, Evarts Boutell, The Revolutionary Generation 1763-1790, 1943.

8. "Iroquois League," The new Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1991.

9. Mathews, R. V., "In Defense of Joseph Brant," Conservationist, 31:41, March 1977.

10. Mitchell, Lt.Col. Joseph B., Discipline & Bayonets, 1967.

1. Monture, Ethel Brant, Famous Indians, 1960.

12. Van Steen, M., "Brantford's Royal Chapel," Canadian Geographical Journal, 57:136-41, October 1958.

13. Weaver, Sally M., "Six Nations of the Grand River, Ontario," Handbook North American Indians, 1978.

Joseph Brant (Thayendanegea), Mohawk

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Pueblo Revolt, 1680

August 10, 1680: The Pueblo Rebellion takes place in New Mexico under the leadership of a Tewa named Popé. Popé has arranged for an attack on as many of the Spanish missions as possible to all take place on the same day. Some sources say this happens on August 11th.

(BACKGROUND: From Glenn Welker's website)

Pope, c.1630-c.1690, a celebrated medicine man of the Tewa PUEBLO Indians at San Juan, N. Mex., instigated a successful rebellion against the Spaniards in 1680. Preaching resistance to the Spanish and restoration of the traditional Pueblo culture and religion, Pope led his people in an attempt to obliterate all Spanish influence. On Aug. 10, 1680, the Indians under his leadership killed about 400 missionaries and colonists and drove the other Spaniards south to El Paso, Tex. Pope and his followers then proceeded to destroy Christian churches and other evidences of the Spanish presence in Pueblo territory. Thereafter, as the head of several Tewa villages, Pope exerted what many considered increasingly harsh rule. Dissension arose, weakening Pueblo unity, and in 1692, two years after Pope's death, the Spaniards regained control.



Pueblo Rebellion

Life for the Pueblo Indians during the 1600s was hard. The Spaniards had settled on their lands and Spanish towns and ranches were built throughout the Rio Grande Valley. Soldiers and priests were living in the Pueblo villages. The Spanish priest outlawed traditional Pueblo ceremonies and forced the Indians to worship the Spanish god. If any Indian refused, he was beaten, jailed, or killed. The Pueblos knew that if they tried to fight against Spaniards at the mission, soldiers from Santa Fe might come and destroy their village.

Strange diseases brought by the settlers from Europe also swept through the Pueblo towns. The illnesses killed hundreds of people and left many villages empty. Before Onate and his colonists had come, the Pueblos had always prepared for dry times by storing extra food for their villages. When the Spaniards conquered the Pueblos, they forced them to surrender the stored good as taxes. When dry times came, there was no food and hundreds of Pueblos died from starvation. The people began to abandon their villages to get away from diseases, hunger, and the Spaniards. Some joined their Navajo friends living near Dinétah. Others joined the Zunis or the Hopis who lived far to the west. Some Pueblos moved onto the plains to escape the Spaniards. When Onate first entered New Mexico in 1598, there were over one hundred Pueblo Indian villages in the Rio Grande valley. By 1680, only forty-three pueblo villages were occupied.

By 1680, many Pueblo chiefs had decided something had to be done about the Spaniards. The Pueblo way of life was ending. A San Juan Pueblo leader named Pope held a secret meeting with other pueblo leaders. He knew that if a single Pueblo village fought against the Spaniards, the army could easily destroy that pueblo. His plan was to have all the pueblo villages attack the Spaniards. The Spaniards could not fight all the pueblos at one time.

Pope outlined his plans to the chiefs and chose a day in August of 1680 for the rebellion. On that day, Pueblo warriors from all villages would storm into the churches and kill all the priests and soldiers. Not one Spaniards should escape to warn the governor and soldiers in Santa Fe. When the priest and soldiers were dead, the warriors would join together to form a huge Pueblo army. Next, they would march into Santa Fe and drive the Spaniards out of New Mexico.

How would the villages know when to attack? Pope told the leaders that each day he would send messengers to each village chief. Each messenger would carry a knotted rope. The numbers of knots on the rope told how many days were left. Each day the village chief received the rope, he would untie one knot. If seven knots were left, that means there would be seven days left. When all the knots had been untied, the Pueblos would attack. The chiefs agreed with Pope's plan and returned home to their villages to get ready. Pope left for the northern pueblo of Taos where he could direct the rebellion in secret.

At first, Pope's plan went well. Then, four days before the rebellion, he discovered that someone had informed the Spaniards about it. He knew that the pueblos had to strike quickly before the soldiers could attack them. He immediately sent out messengers to all the pueblos. He told them to attack immediately.

On October 9, 1680, the Pueblos rebelled. Pueblo warriors killed every priest and soldier they could find and then joined together in a huge army and marched towards Santa Fe. The surviving colonists retreated into Santa Fe. The governor, Antonio de Otermin, knew he could not protect the settlers. The Pueblo army surrounded Santa Fe and cut off all supplies to the town. After a week, Otermin knew his people could not survive much longer.

He ordered his soldiers and colonists to abandon Santa Fe. The governor and nearly two thousand Spaniards fled to friendly Isleta Pueblo for protection. Then they marched down the Rio Grande Valley towards Mexico. At last they reached the Spanish settlement at El Paso in what is now known as Texas.

The Spaniards had escaped, but they lost the war. Over three hundred colonists had been killed. They had lost their homes, ranches, missions and most of their belongings. Not one Spaniard was left in New Mexico. Pope's rebellion had worked. The Pueblos celebrated and tore down Spanish buildings and burned the churches. They destroyed much of Santa Fe. The Pueblo Indians were sure the Spaniards would never come back.

Ten years passed. The Pueblo warriors returned to their villages and returned to their traditional way of life. Medicine men resumed their traditional ceremonies without fear. Pueblo villages began trading freely with each other and with the Navajos.

The Pueblos had many problems. Navajos raided Pueblo villages as they had done before. This time the Spaniards were not there to protect them. Mounted Navajo attacks increased. Apache and Ute horsemen raided the pueblos too. Some Pueblo villages even fought with each other. During this time, the Spaniards made three unsuccessful attempts at reconquesting the Rio Grande Valley. Many Pueblo villages were so busy fighting with each among themselves and with their traditional enemies that they hardly noticed any Spanish soldiers in their area.

Spanish leaders in Mexico had not forgotten the Pueblos or New Mexico. Don Diego de Vargas was selected as the new governor o New Mexico. He was to go to El Paso and form an army to reconquer New Mexico for Spain.

Vargas arrived in El Paso in 1691. He immediately made plans to invade the Rio Grande Valley. He learned from spies that Pope's army had fallen apart. He also knew that the Pueblos were fighting with their enemies and among themselves. Vargas spent a year in El Paso getting his army ready for the reconquest of New Mexico.

In 1692, Vargas and his men marched out of El Paso and entered New Mexico. They caught one of the Pueblo villages by surprise. Soon Governor Vargas' men had taken Santa Fe. One by one the Pueblo villages were defeated. Pope had died before the reconquest. However, soldiers caught and killed other leaders of the Pueblo Rebellion. Most people surrender, but many ran away. After four years of war, Vargas and his men had reconquered all of the Pueblos. The Spaniards were back to stay in New Mexico.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mayan King "Casper," 422 A.D.

August 8, 422: Maya King Casper is born, according to some sources. Eventually, he rules over Palenque, Mexico.

For the resemblance to the "friendly ghost," and because his real name could not be read, the second ruler of Palenque was given the nickname "Casper" by Floyd Lounsbury at the First Palenque Round Table. There is still controversy about the reading, so the undignified nickname remains. In his catalog of Maya hieroglyphics, Eric Thompson called this main sign "Xipe", for its resemblance to the flayed human skin associated with the Aztec deity Xipe Totec. Alfonso Morales Cleveland and Merle Greene Robertson have suggested a resemblance to a manatee. The prefix to the left of the main sign is clearly ch'a, but the main sign itself will never be read until a phonetic substitution is found (where the logogram is spelled syllabically). Casper has also been referred to as 11 Rabbit (by David Kelley, because his birth date, 11 Lamat, correlates with the day "rabbit" of Highland Mexican calendars).



Vast, mysterious and enchanting, the ruined city of Palenque is considered to be the most beautifully conceived of the Mayan city-states and one of the loveliest archaeological sites in the world. Its geographic setting is splendid beyond words. Nestled amidst steep and thickly forested hills, the ruins are frequently shrouded in lacy mists. A rushing brook meanders through the city center and from the temple summits there are stupendous views over an immense coastal plain. Here and there, piercing the dark green forests, soar great pyramids, towers and sprawling temple complexes. In its period of cultural florescence however, Palenque was even more beautiful, for then its limestone buildings were coated with white plaster and painted in a rainbow of pastel hues. These fabulous ruins were so hidden in the jungles that their existence was unknown until 1773. Even then, Palenque was discovered and lost several times until 1841 when the explorers Stephens and Catherwood arrived and described it in detail. Scattered pottery shards show that the site was occupied from as early as 300 BC, but most of the buildings were constructed between the 7th and 10th centuries AD. Then, mysteriously, the great city was abandoned and reclaimed by the inexorable claws of the jungle. Even the Mayan name of the city was lost, and the ruins received their current name from the nearby village of Santo Domingo de Palenque. While the ruins have received some of the most extensive excavation and reconstruction efforts of any of the Mayan sites, only 34 structures have been opened of an estimated 500 that are scattered around the area. As one wanders through the ruins or gazes from atop the tall buildings, small hills are seen everywhere about the site. These are not hills however, but Mayan structures long overgrown with jungle. ... the so-called Temple of the Inscriptions, erected in 692 AD, was originally an eight storey platform later converted into a three-tier pyramid. In 1952 an amazing discovery was made inside this pyramid. Beneath the slab floor of an inner room was found a stairway leading down to a funerary crypt 80 feet (24 m) below. The crypt contained a coffin with a skeleton covered with jade ornaments and other precious jewels. Inscriptions reveal the burial to have been of the great priest/king Pacal Votan who ruled the city from 615-683 AD. It is interesting to note that since the coffin is too large to maneuver down the staircase, the crypt must have been constructed prior to the pyramid that now covers it. This fascinating structure, both temple and tomb, was the primary sacred site in Palenque and one of the most visited pilgrimage shrines in the vast Mayan territories.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006


July 19, 1881: Nana, leading thirteen of the remnants of Victorio's Apache warriors, fights with Lt.John Guilfoyle, and his ninth cavalry troopers, and Indian scouts, near the Arena Blanca River. The Indians manage to escape.

( image courtesy of )

Chief Nana

Nana was a Warm Springs Apache under Victorio but was always close to the Bendonkohe Apache. After Victorio's death at the Tres Castillos massacre in 1880, it was Nana who guided the remains of the tribe into safety. For more than two months he and his group of 40 warriors eluded 1400 troops in a thousand-mile campaign. He later joined forces with Geronimo and Juh, but they never managed to make a common stand against the whites.

Nana was a wise and clever man with the uncanny ability of locating hidden caches of ammunition, food and clothing on the Apache trail. After Victorio's death Nana followed the women and children back to the reservation, but he did not remain with them; he went on with Geronimo.

Nana could outride and outlast any warrior in the saddle, and even in old age he showed no signs of weakness. It is said that Nana's desire to revenge Victorio's death drove him to kill more white men than Victorio had done in his lifetime. It is known that Nana challenged any white man who stood in his way; he brooked no nonsense. Nana, as well as Victorio's sister Lozen, were with Geronimo in their final battle for freedom. When Geronimo surrendered to General Crook in 1886 Nana was given to the Cavalry as a token of good faith that they were truly ready to surrender.

Nana died of old age, and lived his last years on the reservation. He remembered his final days of freedom as something he should never have let go of. In many ways he envied Victorio his fate; to die in combat for his people would have been the ultimate satisfaction for Nana.


Excerpt from "In The Days of Victorio" - Eve Ball, University of Arizona Press, 1970:

"Why do they hunt us?"

"They have orders to kill every Apache, man, woman, or child, found off the reservation."

"But this is our reservation."

"It is no longer ours. The land Ussen created and gave to the Apache, is no longer ours. This, the land promised to Victorio by the Great Nantan in Washington, has been taken from us. He promised it to our Chief and our people forever. And only two summers ago! Perhaps the gold for which the White Eyes grovel in the earth has been found in our mountains. Because of that the word of the Great White Chief means nothing. He has ordered that we go to San Carlos, the worst place in all Apachería, the vast land of our people. I have been to that place when Victorio took his people there. So many died that we fled from it and returned to Warm Springs. You, too, went, but you were too small to remember. Not many babies lived to return.

"Victorio will die fighting before he will permit the Warm Springs Apaches to be forced back to San Carlos again. Instead we go to the Great River where we meet those of us who escape. Grandfather Nana will go to the three chiefs of the Mescaleros, our brothers, and ask for refuge on their reservation. He is to meet us at the river with horses and ammunition."

See also:

Ball, Eve: Indeh, an Apache Odyssey. University of Oklahoma Press, 1980


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Tropical Stonehenge

Tropical Stonehenge may have been found
By STAN LEHMAN, Associated Press Writer
Tue Jun 27, 5:54 PM ET

A grouping of granite blocks along a grassy Amazon hilltop may be the vestiges of a centuries-old astronomical observatory — a find archaeologists say indicates early rainforest inhabitants were more sophisticated than previously believed.

The 127 blocks, some as high as 9 feet tall, are spaced at regular intervals around the hill, like a crown 100 feet in diameter.

On the shortest day of the year — Dec. 21 — the shadow of one of the blocks disappears when the sun is directly above it.

"It is this block's alignment with the winter solstice that leads us to believe the site was once an astronomical observatory," said Mariana Petry Cabral, an archaeologist at the Amapa State Scientific and Technical Research Institute. "We may be also looking at the remnants of a sophisticated culture."

Anthropologists have long known that local indigenous populations were acute observers of the stars and sun. But the discovery of a physical structure that appears to incorporate this knowledge suggests pre-Columbian Indians in the Amazon rainforest may have been more sophisticated than previously suspected.

"Transforming this kind of knowledge into a monument; the transformation of something ephemeral into something concrete, could indicate the existence of a larger population and of a more complex social organization," Cabral said.

Cabral has been studying the site, near the village of Calcoene, just north of the equator in Amapa state in far northern Brazil, since last year. She believes it was once inhabited by the ancestors of the Palikur Indians, and while the blocks have not yet been submitted to carbon dating, she says pottery shards near the site indicate they are pre-Columbian and maybe older — as much as 2,000 years old.

Last month, archaeologists working on a hillside north of Lima, Peru, announced the discovery of the oldest astronomical observatory in the Western Hemisphere — giant stone carvings, apparently 4,200 years old, that align with sunrise and sunset on Dec. 21.

While the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs built large cities and huge rock structures, pre-Columbian Amazon societies built smaller settlements of wood and clay that quickly deteriorated in the hot, humid Amazon climate, disappearing centuries ago, archaeologists say.

Farmers and fishermen in the region around the Amazon site have long known about it, and the local press has dubbed it the "tropical Stonehenge." Archeologists got involved last year after geographers and geologists did a socio-economic survey of the area, by foot and helicopter, and noticed "the unique circular structure on top of the hill," Cabral said.

Scientists not involved in the discovery said it could prove valuable to understanding pre-Columbian societies in the Amazon.

"No one has ever described something like this before. This is an extremely novel find — a one of a kind type of thing," said Michael Heckenberger of the University of Florida's Department of Anthropology.

He said that while carbon dating and further excavation must be carried out, the find adds to a growing body of thought among archaeologists that prehistory in the Amazon region was more varied than had been believed.

"Given that astronomical objects, stars, constellations etc., have a major importance in much of Amazonian mythology and cosmology, it does not in any way surprise me that such an observatory exists," said Richard Callaghan, a professor of geography, anthropology and archaeology at the University of Calgary.

Brazilian archaeologists will return in August, when the rainy season ends, to carry out carbon dating and further excavations.

"The traditional image is that some time thousands of years ago small groups of tropical forest horticulturists arrived in the area and they never changed — (that) what we see today is just like it was 3,000 years ago," Heckenberger said. "This is one more thing that suggests that through the past thousands of years, societies have changed quite a lot."

Tropical Stonehenge may have been found - Yahoo! News

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ward Churchill: 9/11

Looks like the University of Colorado will fire Ward Churchill for his comment made several years back about some people in the World Trade Center being "little Eichmann's." As pointed out, "the whole point of churchill calling them little eichmans or technocrats of the empire is comparing them to the pencil pushers of the nazi death camps, as the wtc folks were the pencil pushers for the american empire."

So much for freedom of speech and academic freedom. The UC will dismiss him on some other trumped-up charges, but this is what it's all about; this and Ward bringing people's attention to the negative side of the American Empire.

Infoshop News - Chancellor says he'll fire Churchill over 9/11 comment

"As for those in the World Trade Center, well, really, let's get a grip here, shall we? True enough, they were civilians of a sort. But innocent? Gimme a break. They formed a technocratic corps at the very heart of America's global financial empire, the "mighty engine of profit" to which the military dimension of U.S. policy has always been enslaved and they did so both willingly and knowingly."

— Ward Churchill , Some People Push Back

"If you want to avoid September 11s, if you want security in some actual form, then it's almost a biblical framing, you have to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As long as you're doing what the U.S. is doing in the world, you can anticipate a natural and inevitable response of the sort that occurred on 9/11. If you don't get the message out of 9/11, you're going to have to change, first of all, your perception of the value of those others who are consigned to domains, semantic domains like collateral damage, then you've really got no complaint when the rules you've imposed come back on you."

— Ward Churchill , Statement to Democracy Now

Yeah, guys saying stuff like this is the kind we don't want teaching in our institutions of higher learning...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dennis Banks

[ The following courtesy of the Herald-Review, Grand Rapids, Minnesota, June 14, 2006 ]

"The American Indian Movement brought to life"

By Britta Arendt

“You’re only here on Earth for a short period of time, maybe 100 years, but when you’re dead you’re gone forever. What the Creator gave you, you have an obligation for future destiny; to bring others into the world—think about it.”

This was a special message Leech Lake Ojibwe leader Dennis Banks gave to students at Northern Lights Community School during a warm spring day in early June. Seated in a circle in the grass behind their school under a bright mid-day sun, a small group of students studying Ojibwe this year attentively listened to the illustrious activist’s life story and the lessons learned from it.

One of the most influential persons in recent American Indian history and, at one time, one of America’s Most Wanted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Banks has made it his mission in life to protect the rights of his people. In 1968, he co-founded the American Indian Movement (AIM) and since then he has participated in some of the most infamous protests of the 20th century.

Born near Federal Dam on the Leech Lake Reservation, Banks was raised by his grandfather. When he was 4-years-old, the government removed Banks and his brother from their home and sent them to a military boarding school 300 miles away. For seven years, Banks said, he was not allowed to see his family.

“Back then, the government had a policy to separate parents and children to deculturize them,” explained Banks, now nearly 70 years old. “It happened to thousands of kids.”
Although some close friendships were formed among the children at the military schools, Banks said they were never allowed to speak their native languages and punished for speaking in anything but English. He said the Native children also were required to attend Catholic or Lutheran religious services.

“They tried to make Christians out of us—all this, to take the Indian out of us.”
Banks explained how he tried to escape from military school several times only to be caught and sent back. Because he did not know where he lived or how to get home, he said, most times, he would get hungry and confused and hoped he would be found.

“I knew I needed to head north; no one ever told me but I knew my home was north.”
After school, Banks spent eight years in the United States Air Force and served in Tokyo for three years. During the French occupation of Vietnam, Banks remembered understanding why the Vietnamese people were so determined.

“After 12 years, the French couldn’t win against the Vietnamese mainly because the Vietnamese were on their own land,” Banks told the students. “It’s hard to beat native people who fight on their own land because you’re coming to take their land.”
As anti-war demonstrations became common throughout the U.S. in the 1960s, Banks said discrimination toward American Indians became prevalent as well. Police brutality against American Indians coupled with high unemployment and insufficient housing among the American Indian population became driving forces for founding AIM. Established to protect the traditional ways of American Indian people and to engage in legal cases protecting treaty rights of American Indians, AIM became successful in bringing American Indian issues to the public.

“Because of the discriminatory policies in this country, that had roots hundreds of years ago, eventually something had to happen,” continued Banks. “If the community school here wants to make Tuesday a holiday, why would someone in Grand Forks care? Why could you be trampled on because of what you believe in? AIM was formed to bring about change. We didn’t realize how far they would go to try and stop us; put us in jail.”

In the early years of AIM, Banks participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island demanding that all federal surplus land be returned to American Indian control. In 1972, Banks helped organize the “Trail of Broken Treaties,” walking 3,600 miles from California to Washington D.C., gathering attention and support in a petition to the Bureau of Indian Affairs to defeat bills that threatened to abolish certain treaties between the government and the American Indian people.

“The walk took five and a half months,” Banks remembered. “We started with 200 people and ended with 14,000; it was a big moment for us.”

Under Banks’ leadership, AIM also spearheaded a protest on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation against government corruption which led to the 71-day occupation of Wounded Knee which attracted national attention. Banks is said to have been the principle negotiator and leader of the Wounded Knee forces.

“We set up road blocks and allowed no one to enter without permission,” Banks explained. “The government said we took over Wounded Knee but we didn’t, it was our land. Then they started shooting at us. They built bunkers and we built bunkers.”

According to Banks, U.S. soldiers surrounded Wounded Knee with machine guns, armored personnel carriers and snipers. Thousands of rounds of ammunition was fired from both sides throughout the entire 71 days, resulting in the deaths on both sides, until the government agreed to look into AIM’s claims of corruption.

Arrested for felony to commit murder, Banks faced 250 years in jail plus a life sentence. His $250,000 bail was put up by American Indian supporter and actor Marlon Brando and he received amnesty in California by then Governor Jerry Brown who refused to extradite him to South Dakota.

Banks talked about the seven-month trial that resulted in his acquittal. After it was discovered that the prosecution’s primary witness lied about being at Wounded Knee at the time of the occupation and the U.S. military was charged with wasting millions of rounds of ammunition in the fight, Banks said the judge scolded the FBI for the dangerous way the situation was handled.

While in California, Banks earned an associate’s degree from the University of California and taught at Deganawida Quetzecoatl University where he became the first American Indian chancellor. He worked as a drug and alcohol counselor on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and established the first spiritual run as well as the Great Jim Thorpe Longest Run from New York to Los Angeles. Banks has continued his involvement in AIM and is an active member of his Leech Lake community, including Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig School.
Banks encouraged the NLCS students to learn more about the Ojibwe culture and ceremonies, “Here we have Fond du Luth and Leech Lake reservations and why you haven’t been in a sweat lodge, I don’t know—I’ve been in a few churches.”

Herald-Review - Grand Rapids, Minnesota