“SAVING” THE INDIANS AND CUSTER’S LAST STAND, 1876
Katherine Luck wrote an article Black Hills, Dark History for the weekly newspaper Real Change. This article focuses on the book Thieves’ Road by Terry Mort, attesting to the notion of greed that drove the Major General George Armstrong Custer to exert the military force on the Indian Village led by Sitting Bull. This smear campaign aimed to reignite the gold rush within the region lasted until the death of the 36-year-old American war veteran and the defeat of his army by the Indians. Further attempts to seize the Black Hills located in the current-day South Dakota led to the defeat of the Indians and their relocation from the region following the technical breaches of former contracts with the U.S. government prior to the battle.
The article mentions the economic depression of the post-Civil War era in the U.S. described in the book. Immigrants flocked to the U.S. due to worse economic situations in Europe than in the U.S. Therefore, the politics and economics of the era targeted the Black Hills as the experts of the time claimed that the region seemed rich in gold. This would have relieved the economic pressure significantly and led to the adequate formation of settlements with sufficient resources. The Sioux offered surprisingly great resistance at Custer’s Last Stand because the land was given to them in 1868 in accordance with a treaty.
The Indians were aware of the impending attack by the worn-out, unprepared army raised by Custer and his simple plan to remove the reputable chief. Targeting women and children as hostages in order to coerce the warriors to surrender their defenses was his plan. However, reinforcements sent to the Indian chief were strong enough to fight all the fronts from which Custer and his battalions attacked.
The natives were extremely vulnerable to exploitation by the U.S. government. Their displacement from this region was treacherous and there were no systems in place to protect them from such exploitation. Currently, Luck explains that they refused the settlement offered by the government as the case was not reviewed in the aspect it should have been. They were not selling the land; it was grabbed from them for economic reasons. This shows that the expedition to seize the Black Hills was undeniably unethical. The ensuing hostility was a vice all parties could share the blame in; however, the actualization of the battle was from the U.S. side.
The national holiday of Thanksgiving has a murky history based on the same injustice against the natives. Migrating to the U.S. against the interest of the indigenous population kept the two factions of the New Land at constant odds. The immigrants stole the stored food of the natives, robbed them of their property as well as introducing new diseases to the land. Thanksgiving between the natives and immigrants was non-existent as the first were coerced to accept these visitors. The holiday does not present what it meant back then. The current political arena is all-inclusive unlike the situation at that time.
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Therefore, the national holiday, Thanksgiving, should be renounced due to the fact that it is based on the suffering of the natives for the benefit of the immigrants. It appears to be an insult to the people who eventually accepted the settlement of newcomers throughout the U.S. to form the nation that exists today. Celebrating a holiday without considering its background is a mistake that Americans have done for so long. It should be stopped.
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