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151 CHAPTER 10 Indian Warfare in the West, 1861–1890 JEFFREY OSTLER At the University of Oregon, I regularly teach the second part of a threeterm survey of U.S. history covering the “long nineteenth century”—1800 to 1914. In the textbook I assign, the brief edition of Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty!, Indians appear in predictable places. Before the Civil War, there is mention of Sacajawea; a longer discussion of Tecumseh, Tenskwatawa, and the Red Sticks; and a section on Indian removal, the Marshall court decisions, and the Trail of Tears. Indians spend their lengthiest time on stage after the Civil War in a section titled “The Transformation of the West” that contains discussions of the “subjugation of Plains Indians,” the flight of the Nez Perces, assimilation, the Dawes Act, Indian citizenship, the Ghost Dance, and Wounded Knee. Here, as elsewhere, the text is sympathetic to Indians, seeing them as fighting to preserve their lands and ways of life and so akin to other “freedom fighters” in American history (a sidebar quotes Chief Joseph’s 1879 “let me be a free man” speech). The text also points out that Wounded Knee was not the end of Indian history, a point followed up on by some discussion of Indians and progressivism in a subsequent chapter.1 Using Foner or a similar text, instructors will find it easier to “bring Indians in” to the U.S. survey when focusing on the West from 1861 to 1890 than for many other parts of the survey. Almost all standard collegelevel textbooks provide some information about Sand Creek, the Little Bighorn, Chief Joseph, and the Ghost Dance/Wounded Knee, with many mentioning the U.S.-Dakota War, the Navajos’ Long Walk, and Geronimo. A fuller treatment of Indian warfare in the West might begin by observing that although some events and individuals are well known, other equally significant events and people remain obscure. Almost all students recognize Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and Wounded Knee, but few have heard of events such as the 1863 Bear River Massacre (Shoshones), the 1868 Washita Battle/Massacre (Southern Cheyennes), the 1870 Marias Massacre (Blackfoot), the 1871 Camp Grant Massacre (Apaches), the Modoc War of 1872–73, the Red River War of 1874–75 (Kiowas, Cheyennes, 152 JEFFREY OSTLER Comanches, Arapahos), the killing of northern Cheyennes in 1879 as they tried to return to their homelands after having been exiled in Indian Territory and confined at Fort Robinson, Nebraska,2 or the names of Native leaders associated with these events: Sagwitch, Heavy Runner, Hashkēē bá nzįn (Angry, Men Stand in Line for Him), Kintpuash (Captain Jack), Satanta, and Dull Knife.3 It would be impossible to narrate all or even a few of these events in survey lectures, but listing them along with those better known would provide a better sense of the extent of U.S. violence against Indians in the West. Most textbooks provide some useful context for U.S. wars against western Indians, explaining how capitalist development of the West entailed railroad construction, exploitation of minerals, the slaughter of bison for the national and world market, expanded agricultural production, and the explosion of cattle raising. These processes caused widespread material deprivation for all Indian people. Under these conditions, some Indians (though only a minority) decided to take up arms to defend their lands and undertake raids on settlers, livestock, and army posts. In some instances, as in the Lakota/Cheyenne campaign to close down the Bozeman Trail from 1865 to 1868, militant resistance entailed extensive planning and coordination and built on policies that had been developed a decade earlier. In other cases, such as the Modocs’ refusal to continue living at the Klamath Reservation or the Nez Perces’ opposition to relocating to a reservation, resistance erupted more suddenly. Situations of sustained raiding, involving , for example, Apaches attacking Arizona settlements or Kiowas raiding Texas cattle herds, were often motivated by immediate material needs and can be seen as a form of labor (similar to hunting).4 U.S. military operations against Indians were undertaken primarily to punish and subjugate those engaged in raiding and armed resistance or resisting confinement and relocation, although in some instances militias and armies, finding it difficult to strike resisting groups, acted against nonresisting communities . This is what happened at the Sand Creek Massacre when Colorado militia forces, unable to attack the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers who had undertaken raids against overland travelers and settlements, instead destroyed a peace-seeking and far...


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