Culture

History Lesson for Columbus Day - Lincoln Signed The Emancipation Proclamation Then 2 Days Later Executed 38 Sioux Men

Not once in my young teenage mind did I ever wonder why some of my ancestors were called "civilized."

On Columbus Day each year school children are taught about Columbus discovering America. What we rarely hear anymore is the real story about the day the western world got lost on the way to the West Indies and began the slaughter of thousands in their manifest destiny.

Something I was never taught in American history that you should know from the video:

 

"The Homestead Act, signed by President Lincoln, unleashed a flood of white settlers into Native lands," Huey says. "1863: An uprising of Santee Sioux in Minnesota ends with the hanging of 38 Sioux men, the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The execution was ordered by President Lincoln only two days after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation."

 

And one more horrible disgusting moment in our American history:

 

"1890, a date I believe to be the most important in this slide show," Huey says. "This is the year of the Wounded Knee Massacre. On December 29th, U.S. troops surrounded a Sioux encampment at Wounded Knee Creek and massacred Chief Big Foot and 300 prisoners of war, using a new rapid-fire weapon that fired exploding shells called a Hotchkiss gun. For this so-called “battle,” 20 Congressional Medals of Honor for Valor were given to the 7th Cavalry. To this day, this is the most Medals of Honor ever awarded for a single battle. More Medals of Honor were given for the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children than for any battle in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. The Wounded Knee massacre is considered the end of the Indian wars. Whenever I visit the site of the mass grave at Wounded Knee, I see it not just as a grave for the Lakota or for the Sioux, but as a grave for all indigenous peoples."

 

When I was a kid, back in Oklahoma, we were taught a variety of "historic" tales about the establishment of the state, where we came from and the Native American tribes that were the foundation of the Indian Territory established officially in 1834. When I was in Oklahoma History in the 9th grade, we talked about the "Five Civilized Tribes" who made up the vast majority of what eventually became Oklahoma. Think about that term for a moment: Five Civilized Tribes. Civilized.

Not once in my young teenage mind did I ever wonder why some of my ancestors were called "civilized." What did they do to garner such a title from our government? It wasn't until much later that I heard the term again and realized what it meant. They didn't fight back. They negotiated. That's why they were considered "civilized." If you fought back you were labeled a savage. If you stood up to those slaughtering your family, you were labeled an uncivilized barbaric "featherhead." When the new colonists came to their world and eventually took over, most tribes fought back. Eventually, some agreed to deal for survival.

Today's battles for the Lakota is everything from preventing Lakota children from being taken by South Dakota's Department of Social Services to a fight with a neighboring town whose only purpose is to serve liquor since the tribal lands are dry. Lakota children are literally abused in public by South Dakotans.

Wouldn't it be nice if after over 200 years we could stop trying to screw over Native Americans? Here are some amazing, haunting, yet beautiful photos of the Lakota Tribe by Aaron Huey: