The Scorched Earth Campaign Against the American Indians

A new article at AI/AN Attack the System highlights how the US Government subdued American Indians across the North American continent: through the destruction of our economic bases, in this case, buffalo.

Genocide by Other Means: U.S. Army Slaughtered Buffalo in Plains Indian Wars

General William Tecumseh Sherman, who had broken the back of the South during the Civil War with his ruthless March to the Sea, helped negotiate the Fort Laramie and 1867 Medicine Lodge treaties that were supposed to end U.S. hostilities with northern and southern tribes. But that’s when officers started thinking about a new strategy. Sherman knew that during the Civil War the Confederates’ means and will to fight were extinguished by his brutal—and brutally effective—”scorched earth” policy that decimated the infrastructure of the South. Why couldn’t the same strategy be applied to Indians and their buffalo? Greymorning said, “The government realized that as long as this food source was there, as long as this key cultural element was there, it would have difficulty getting Indians onto reservations.

Isenberg said, “Some Army officers in the Great Plains in the late 1860s and 1870s, including William Sherman and Richard Dodge, as well as the Secretary of the Interior in the 1870s, Columbus Delano, foresaw that if the bison were extinct, the Indians in the Great Plains would have to surrender to the reservation system.” Colonel Dodge said in 1867, “Every buffalo dead is an Indian gone,” and Delano wrote in his 1872 annual report, “The rapid disappearance of game from the former hunting-grounds must operate largely in favor of our efforts to confine the Indians to smaller areas, and compel them to abandon their nomadic customs.”

This flies in the face of the myth that settler’s were simply peacefully homesteading unclaimed and unused land. On the contrary, it took an active military campaign with a scorched earth policy executed by the largest empire this world has ever seen to dislodge the Plains Indians from their homelands. The conquest of North America represented large scale race replacement and genocide.

Today we are confined to reservations. The white man is here to stay. The white man as a whole is not our enemy, as their existence as our neighbors is largely peaceful. Rather, the enemy continues to be the institution that cleared the way for white settlement; the same institution that continues to oppress us through theft of resources, destruction of our traditional way of life, and brainwashing of our children: the US Government, the BIA, and any and every Federal department that maintains a presence on our lands. Include on that list any corporate entity that collaborates with federal or state authorities to plunder our lands and people.

About Vince

I am a Tlingit, born and raised in Tlingit Country, and a proud member of the Tlingit Nation.
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1 Response to The Scorched Earth Campaign Against the American Indians

  1. The idea that the real enemy is “the institution,” is right on. Not only are first nation peoples affected by such corporacracy oligarchies, so are most of those within the dominionists culture. Unfortunately, not enough of the dominionists realize how much is being taken away from them and essentially “everyone” (all people are natives of the Earth Mother) by the policies and politics of the elites that continue to hold the reins.of this runaway horse. In the USA, where I live, big business has been subsidized by our tax structure for far too long at the expense of public natural resources. Until we factor in natural capital to the one sided industrial form of capitalism, and pay properly for what is taken, we will continue seeing subjigation of people and resources. Elitists within the halls of business and politics have had too much power for too long. it seems a never ending fight between the haves and have nots, and trying to find a fair an equitable balance is a wild horse to ride.

    A part of what makes achieving any kind of equitable balance between nations/peoples is the difference in worldviews, especially as it comes to natural resources. First Nations see man as part of nature, everything connected, with salmon a fitting icon -representing cyclic processes. Second Nation peoples see man as separate from nature, dominionist attutuide sanctioned by god, dams a fitting icon – representing distruptive processes. In sync, out of sync. Finding harmony is a steep challenge.

    The important thing to remember: when you get bucked off, ya gotta get back on. Keep on, keeping on. Go First Nations Canada.

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