This book narrates the endless series of broken promises, broken treaties, crimes, murders, massacres that the white Americans did against the American natives, or Indians. It’s the story of what is nothing else than an attempted genocide. Entire tribes were exterminated, especially on the East and West Coasts. The tribes between the coasts were either exterminated, or decimated in cruel ways, including direct attacks by the Army, extenuating marches, or (more commonly) by moving them to reservations in lands that no white people wanted because there was nothing, nothing would grow there, and the climate was terrible. On top of that, the reservation system was used by corrupt politicians, military officers, and reservation agents (white) to become rich by keeping the money and the provisions that were destined to sustain the Indians in the reservations. Those Indians were given bad and poor rations, and were frequently left to starve or die of diseases.
Surprisingly, Indians were very tolerant and open to share their lands with the whites, and have good relationships with them. But the greed and the land-grabbing spirit of the whites unleashed a long series of wars and aggressions against the Indians to rob them of their lands so that pioneers, miners, ranchers and speculators could get them. Of course, the Indians did kill and massacre some whites, and even go to war against them, but it was always an exasperated reaction to the cruelty and lies of the white men.
Equally appalling is the utter arrogance of the white men who felt that it was their duty to impose their values, religion, civilization to the Indians, seen as savages that had to be civilized and become like the whites. This ideology has its roots in what was called Manifest Destiny, and unfortunately in some forms is still around now on a global stage. The Indians could not understand why they had to leave their way of life, to which they were very well adapted, to replace it with the white way of life.
This book dispels decades of lies spread around until not so long ago by the press and Hollywood movies depicting the Indians as bloodthirsty savage warmongers always assaulting defenseless, brave whites. The reality shows that the whites were the warmongers and greedy, land-grabbing thieves, whereas the Indians were the victims of a nation that would stop at nothing that might hinder its expansion. The Indians were too different from the whites, and had to be wiped away. Indians were “not persons within the meaning of the law”. That’s why, in 1879, the case “Standing Bear v. Crook” was historical. In that trial, Judge Dundy, with the tacit support of General Crook, ruled that an Indian was a “person within the meaning of the habeas corpus act”. The first person to congratulate Standing Bear was General Crook himself.
This is a wonderful and very well documented book.
"They made us many promises,more than I can remember,but they never kept but one;they promised to take our land,and they took it." (Chief Red Cloud in old age)