Gayusuta and Washington

Gayusuta and Washington

Monday, June 26, 2017

Survivors: the Caddo Confederacy

The Caddo were a confederation of tribes of the Southeast, in what is now Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.  As such, their history spans both the period of the early American frontier, and of the American west.  Prior to European contact, the Caddo were among the Mississippian cultures, building some of the more complex mounds in the southeastern region.  The were connected to the Wichita, Pawnee and Kitsai, who also spoke Caddoan languages.  By the time of Hernando de Soto's expedition in 1541, the 18 or so tribes of the Caddo Confederacy had grouped themselves into three main divisions, the Natchitoches in what is now Louisiana, the Haisinai, in what is now Texas, and the Kadohadocho, who lived near the border of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. 

De Soto had apparently not learned his leasson from his encounters with Tuskaloosa and what would become the Choctaw Nation.  His troops clashed with the Tula, a Caddo band near present-day Caddo Gap, Arkansas.  The Caddo won and the town commemorates the incident with a monument.  French explorers in the 18th century had a better outcome, as they were willing to trade furs.  Unfortunately, traders, missionaries and explorers also brought contact with infectious diseases, which took their toll among the Caddo bands as it did with other Native peoples.  They were able to maintain their traditional homelands.  Towns such as Nacogdoches, Texas and Natchitoches, Louisiana reflect early contact with the Natchitoches people.  When the United States took over the Louisiana Purchase in 1804, the Caddo remained neutral in conflicts between the Army and other southeastern tribes, for the most part being left alone, for the time being.

Indian Removal threatened the Caddo as well as other Southeastern tribes.  The Kadohadacho signed a treaty in 1835 with the United States, agreeing to remove to what was then part of Mexico.  In 1836, when the Republic of Texas proclaimed its independence from Mexico, this area became part of East Texas.  The name Texas may be a Haisinai word, taysha, meaning friend.  In 1845, when Texas became a state, the Haisinai and Kadohadacho were relocated to the Brazos Reservation and, by 1859, most had been relocated to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.  Their reservation was between the Washita and Canadian Rivers.

In the 19th century, the Caddo became interested in the Ghost Dance religion and later the Native American Peyote religion.  Allotment stripped the Caddo people of much of their initial reservation land and their rights of self-government.  Caddo leaders protested these laws, but their arguments fell on deaf ears.  The Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, and the Indian Welfare Act of 1936 allowed the Caddo to reorganize their government.  They are now a federally recognized tribe based in Oklahoma. 

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Reprise: Red Jacket of the Seneca, c 1750-1830

Dispute exists about where in New York Red Jacket was born.  It could have been at Old Seneca Castle near Geneva, NY, near Cayuga Lake, or even Keuke Lake.  His family did spend much time there when he was a boy, and his mother was buried there.  So the Keuke Lake location is the most probable.  As a boy and young man, his name was Otetiani.  He acquired the name Segoyawatha when he became a Sachem.  His more common name, Red Jacket, came from his favorite coat, a braided red jacket given to him by the British during the Revolution.

Like all Iroquois leaders, Segoyawatha was born into his mother's wolf clan and later became one of the 50 Iroquois Sachems in 1791.  As such, he often had to work with Joseph Brant, his counterpart for the Mohawk, during the American Revolution when both the Seneca and Mohawk chose to ally with the British.  They were not friends but could work together in council for the benefit of their people.  After the Revolution, Segoyawatha came into his own as a negotiator on behalf of his people with the United States government.  In 1792, he led a delegation to Philadelphia and met with George Washington.  There, he was presented with the unusually large peace medal which appears in his portraits.  He was also presented with a rifle with a silver-inlaid stock bearing his initials and the wolf clan emblem.  Both of these pieces survive.  The gun is in a private collection and the medal is in the possession of the Buffalo Historical Society.  Along with his cousins Cornplanter and Handsome Lake, he was a signatory of the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, which imposed punitive land cessions on the Seneca for having sided with the British during the Revolution, but did confirm other tracts of land for them in New York. 

At some point, Segoyawatha began drinking heavily.  He later on adopted the teachings of his cousin, Handsome Lake, and was able to stop consuming alcohol.  Though he had several children, he'd lost most of them to childhood diseases, which he believed was the Great spirit's punishment for his drinking and gave him the impetus to stay sober.  During the War of 1812, he worked to keep the Seneca neutral and out of harm's way, though he had to contend with the influence of Tecumseh and other leaders who wanted to pull his people into the wider conflicts going on around them.  He lived his later years in Buffalo, New York.  He was originally buried in an Indian Cemetery.  Years later, his grandson, General Ely S. Parker and others petitioned for his reburial in Forest Lawn Cemetery, where he rests today.  Like other Native leaders of the time, he sat for his portrait many times.  George Catlin painted him twice.  Other portraits were done by Henry Inman and Robert Weir.

Segoyawatha's most famous speech, "Religion for the White Man and the Red" began as a response to a Protestant missionary in 1805.  While the missionaries argued for one religion and one path to God, He believed that each person should have the right to pursue the religion which suited them best.  He politely, yet firmly, rejected the notion that the Iroquois were required to adopt Christianity.  Later, he was invited to give the speech before the United States Senate, an honor that few except visiting heads of state receive.  As well as discussing religion, Segoyawatha gives an apt summary of the history of the relationship between Natives and Settlers.  This is the text:

Friend and Brother: it was the will of the Great Spirit that we should meet together this day. He orders all things and has given us a fine day for our council. He has taken his garment from before the sun, and caused it to shine with brightness upon us. Our eyes are opened, that we see clearly; our ears are unstopped, that we have been able to hear distinctly the words you have spoken. For all these favors we thank the Great Spirit; and him only.Brother: this council fire was kindled by you. It was at your request that we came together at this time. We have listened with attention to what you have said. You requested us to speak our minds freely. This gives us great joy; for we now consider that we stand upright before you, and can speak what we think. All have heard your voice, and all speak to you now as one man. Our minds are agreed. Brother: you say you want an answer to your talk before you leave this place. It is right you should have one, as you are a great distance from home, and we do not wish to detain you. But we will first look back a little, and tell you what our fathers have told us, and what we have heard from the white people. Brother: listen to what we say. There was a time when our forefathers owned this great island. Their seats extended from the rising to the setting sun. The Great Spirit had made it for the use of Indians. He had created the buffalo, the deer, and other animals for food. He has made the bear and the beaver. Their skins served us for clothing. He had scattered them over the country, and taught us how to take them. He had caused the earth to produce corn for bread. All this He had done for his red children, because He loved them. If we had some disputes about our hunting ground, they were generally settled without the shedding of much blood. But an evil day came upon us. Your forefathers crossed the great water and landed on this island. Their numbers were small. They found friends and not enemies. They told us they had fled from their own country for fear of wicked men, and had come here to enjoy their religion. They asked for a small seat. We took pity on them; granted their request; and they sat down amongst us. We gave them corn and meat; they gave us poison in return. The white people, brother, had now found our country. Tidings were carried back, and more came amongst us. Yet we did not fear them. We took them to be friends. They called us brothers. We believed them, and gave them a larger seat. At length their numbers had greatly increased. They wanted more land; they wanted our country. Our eyes were opened, and our minds became uneasy. Wars took place. Indians were hired to fight against Indians, and many of our people were destroyed. They also brought strong liquor amongst us. It was strong and powerful, and has slain thousands.Brother: our seats were once large, and yours were small. You have now become a great people, and we have scarcely a place left to spread our blankets. You have got our country, but are not satisfied; you want to force your religion upon us. Brother: continue to listen. You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to his mind, and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach, we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right, and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a book. If it was intended for us as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers, the knowledge of that book, with the means of understanding it rightly? We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?Brother: you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the book? Brother: we do not understand these things. We are told that your religion was given to your forefathers, and has been handed down from father to son. We also have a religion, which was given to our forefathers, and has been handed down to us, their children. We worship in that way. It teaches us to be thankful for all the favors we receive; to love each other, and to be united. We never quarrel about religion. Brother: the Great Spirit has made us all, but He has made a great difference between his white and red children. He has given us different complexions and different customs. To you He has given the arts. To these He has not opened our eyes. We know these things to be true. Since He has made so great a difference between us in other things, why may we not conclude that He has given us a different religion according to our understanding? The Great Spirit does right. He knows what is best for his children; we are satisfied. Brother: we do not wish to destroy your religion, or take it from you. We only want to enjoy our own. Brother: you say you have not come to get our land or our money, but to enlighten our minds. I will now tell you that I have been at your meetings, and saw you collect money from the meeting. I cannot tell what this money was intended for, but suppose that it was for your minister, and if we should conform to your way of thinking, perhaps you may want some from us. Brother: we are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbors. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while, and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest, and less disposed to cheat Indians, we will then consider again of what you have said.Brother: you have now heard our answer to your talk, and this is all we have to say at present. As we are going to part, we will come and take you by the hand, and hope the Great Spirit will protect you on your journey, and return you safe to your friends. (from the website Social Justice Net). 


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Survivors: the Apalachee of Florida

Pre-contact Florida was home to several Native tribes, among them the Muskogean-speaking Apalachee, who were part of the Mississippian Culture and inhabited a place known as Velda Mound.  Although they had abandoned the mound by the time the Spanish appeared in Florida, their wealth and reputation was such that members of the Narvaez Expedition of 1528 believed that the riches they sought might lie with the Apalachee.  The Narvaez Expedition identified an Apalachee village with the name, Apalachen, which became Anglicized as Appalachian in later centuries, and eventually applied to the entire mountain chain along the eastern United States.  The Apalachee were among the tribes encountered by Hernando de Soto during his expedition to Florida in 1539-40, living around what is now Apalachee Bay.  The arrival of the Spanish in Florida brought disease and complete social upheaval to the tribes in the region.  The Spanish were quick to exploit any rivalry among Native tribes as they settled and began building outposts and missions.

The Apalachee distrusted and feared the Spanish because of the mistreatment they had endured from Narvaez and later de Soto.  It wouldn't be until 1600 that Franciscan priests were able to establish missions among the Apalachee, including Mission San Antonio de Bacuqua in what is now Leon County.  Harsh treatment caused the Apalachee to revolt in 1647.  The Spanish enacted brutal reprisals, forcing Apalachee men to work on roads and other projects as far away as St. Augustine.  In the 1670's, Creeks, Chickasaws and other tribes began raiding the Spanish missions, stealing Apalachee people to sell as slaves to the English.  In 1701, a raid by settlers in Carolina on Mission San Luis nearly destroyed the entire Apalachee population.  By 1704, raids on Spanish Florida had forced the Spanish to abandon their province.  The remaining Apalachee, about 300 fled to Pensacola, eventually to Mobile and into Louisiana. 

These Apalachee settled along the Red River in Louisiana.  Others returned to Florida, eventually joining and going west with the Creek tribe during Indian Removal.  The few remaining in Florida in 1763 were evacuated to Vera Cruz, Mexico and later to Cuba.  Descendants of the Apalachee wo had fled to Louisiana remained in Rapides Parish.  Despite encroachment by settlers and discrimination as a non-white minority following the Civil War, the Louisiana Apalachee managed to hold on to their land.  They began seeking federal recognition in 1997. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Places: Fort Mitchell, Russell County, Alabama

Five Southeastern Tribes experienced the deportation of the Trail of Tears during the period of Indian Removal during the 1830's.  Among them were the Muscogee/Creek, who had once held vast hunting ranges in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.  In 1836, faced with giving up their last portions of their ancient homelands many Creeks had enough and rose in revolt, echoing the Red Stick uprisings of the earlier Creek War in 1813-14.  Like that earlier conflict, this unrest was quickly put down and the government decided that the Creeks were moving to Oklahoma, like it or not.

As resistance by their distant cousins the Seminoles flared in Florida, the government instituted forcible removals of Creek families, going from home to home and ordering them out with whatever possessions they could snatch up at the last minute.  Where to put these people until they could begin the trek to Oklahoma?  Fort Mitchell in Russell County, Alabama had been built in 1813 as a response to the Creek War.  Beginning in 1817, the fort was also a trading post where the Creek could trade deer and other hides for supplies.  However, the fort soon became a haven for off-the-record smuggling and sales of black slaves.  Unscrupulous traders also sold whiskey to the soldiers and the Creek, though such was strictly forbidden to the latter.  The fort was a wooden palisade, with blockhouses on each corner and barracks, a hospital and storage rooms.

The palisade also made a convenient stockade into which hundreds of men, women and children were crowded to make camp as best they could until the trek to Indian Territory, now Oklahoma, could begin.  Overcrowding, exposure, poor sanitation and insufficient rations led to disease and eventually death.  The tears of bereaved and dispossessed people began at Fort Mitchell even before they started their journey west.  The original wooden fort has long since disappeared and been replaced with a reconstruction.  It's on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.  An informational plaque mentions the internment of the Creek here on their Trail of Tears.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Friday Reprise: Pushmataha of the Choctaw, c1760-1824

The above is just one suggestion for the etymology of Pushmataha (c 1760-1824), called the greatest of all Choctaw chiefs.  Other etymologies indicate "one whose weapon is alike fatal in war or hunting", "the sapling is ready, finished for him", or "the warrior's seat is finished".  Each carries a connotation of finality, which is appropriate given the fact that this Native American leader won the admiration of both his people and the Americans for his skills in war and diplomacy.  When he undertook a project, it was done, finished to his satisfaction. 

There are numerous legends surrounding this warrior and they start with his birth.  His parents died young, possibly killed by a raid in from a neighboring tribe.  For this reason, later tradition held that Pushmataha came to be in the midst of the storm, when a lightening bolt struck a tree and up sprang a full-grown warrior.  More likely, he was born near present-day Macon, Mississippi and went through a regular childhood, learning the skills needed to become the leader he would one day be.  He went on his first war party against the Creek at age 13, which was young even in those days.  He also participated in campaigns against the Caddo and Osage tribes west of the Mississippi, between 1784-89.  Choctaw population and the resultant need for more hunting range had increased by the first decade of the nineteenth century.  So, too, had White expansion, something he was opposed to.  He spent much of that decade keeping squatters off Choctaw land.  His raids extended into Arkansas and Oklahoma, and his knowledge of those areas would prove valuable to his people and, later to the United States government. 

By 1800, Pushmataha was made Mingo or chief of the Six Towns District, one of three political divisions of the tribe.  His territory was based primarily in Mississippi.  He was known for his keen mind, his wit, and his eloquence in speaking.  He first met with United States envoys in 1802, and negotiated the Treaty of Mount Dexter in 1805, meeting with PresidentThomas Jefferson.  During the War of 1812, he also met with Tecumseh, but rejected the Shawnee leader's plan to rise against the Americans.  Pushmataha pointed out that the Choctaws and Chickasaws had lived in peace with European settlers, learning valuable technologies from them.  He warned Tecumseh that he would fight anyone who fought the United States.  With the outbreak of the War of 1812, Pushmataha allied the Choctaw with the United States, and urged the Creeks against an alliance with Great Britain.  He also offered to raise a troop of warriors to fight for the United States.  The General in charge of the district initially rebuffed that offer, but realized in time that his decision was unwise and graciously accepted.  Pushmataha led his men in several battles, ultimately being placed under Andrew Jackson's command, where he participated in the Battle of New Orleans and the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.  American military leaders came to appreciate his skill in leading his men.  He was known as a strict leader who kept his warriors under control.

On his return from the War of 1812, Pushmataha was elected Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation.  While he appreciated the White man's technological inventions, he was not keen on the missionaries who infiltrated Choctaw land and tried to prevent their work.  He introduced the cotton gin to Choctaw territory.  He also promoted education and had his five children educated.  He negotiated other treaties with the United States, including the Treaty of Doak's Stand in 1820.  This was a controversial land cession because the territory involved were core lands of the Choctaw people.  Pushmataha stood his ground to his old commander Jackson, who offered him equivalent lands in Oklahoma and Arkansas.  Pushmataha knew that those lands were less fertile and that squatters had already infiltrated those territories.  Matters came to a head during the talks.  According to the stories told, which I still need to verify, Jackson became angry and stood up, snapping, "Sir, I'll have you to understand that I'm Andrew Jackson and, by the Eternal, you'll sign that treaty!"  Pushmataha also stood and retorted, "I'll have you know that I'm Pushmataha, and by the Eternal, I shall not sign this treaty!"  Pushmataha signed only after the United States offered assurance that they would evict squatters from the lands.

In 1824, Pushmataha was growing more concerned

about squatters entering Choctaw land and the United States government's violation of it's promises to uphold Native land rights.  He took his case to Washington, D.C.  There, he met with President James Monroe and Secretary of War John C. Calhoun.  He told Calhoun, "I can say and tell the truth that no Choctaw ever drew his bow against the United States.  My nation has given of their country until it is very small.  We are in trouble."  While in Washington waiting for a response from the government, Pushmataha sat for his portrait in his army uniform.  The portraitist was Charles Bird King and the portrait hung in the Smithsonian until it was destroyed by fire and replaced with a replica.  In 1824, he developed a viral lung infection, known as croup at the time and became seriously ill.  In a rare show of respect, Andrew Jackson visited him on his deathbed.  To his fellow Choctaw who had traveled with him, Pushmataha reportedly said, " I am about to die, but you will return to our country.  As you go along the paths, you will see the flowers and hear the birds sing, but Pushmataha will see and hear them no more.  When you reach home they will ask you, 'where is Pushmataha?'  And you will say to them, 'he is no more.' They will hear your words as they do the fall of the great oak in the stillness of the midnight woods."

He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, DC.  Just six years later, his people would have need of his leadership as they signed the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek (1830) and began the long trek that would be known as the Trail of Tears (1831). 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Natives versus Settlers: the Battle of Wildcat Creek, November 22, 1812

This battle is also known as the second Battle of Tippecanoe, since part of the windup to the battle took place on the Tippecanoe battlefield.  It's also known as Spur's Run, since after their encounter with a combined Native force Kickapoo, Winnebago and Shawnee commanded possibly by Tecumseh's brother, the detachments of the US Army and Kentucky and Indiana militia were content to do just that-spur their horses as far away from the area as they could.

By winter of 1812 tempers on both sides of the conflict were high.  The battle of Tippecanoe on November 7, 1811 had broken the back of Tecumseh's Confederacy.  He was still alive, but dependent on the British in Canada.  Hundreds of his followers had fled, but others had stayed in the area.  The Battle of Fort Dearborn in August, 1812 and Pigeon's Roost Massacre of September, 1812, had local inhabitants demanding punishment of the remaining tribes.  It was only a matter of time before the two collided and things got very ugly.  A force consisting largely of Indiana and Kentucky militia under Samuel Hopkins and William Russell was dispatched on a punitive raid in the Tippecanoe area, taking the same route that Harrison had before the battle.  Russell destroyed a Kickapoo village but had to retreat to Cahokia, Illinois.  Hopkins and his Kentucky militia were driven back to Vincennes, and nearly became the victims of a prairie fire started by the Kickapoo.

Furious, Hopkins dismissed most of the Kentucky militia with him and turned to the regular Army.  Major Zachary Taylor (future POTUS) and the 7th Infantry, along with the few units of Kentucky and Indiana militia who had been spared Hopkins wrath traveled to the Tippecanoe battleground.  There, they found that the White dead from the original battle had been dug up and the corpses scalped or dismembered.  Natives believed that a person went to the afterlife with the same injuries he'd suffered in this life.  A dismembered enemy couldn't be a threat in the afterlife.  That explanation wouldn't have satisfied Hopkins and Taylor, whose men buried the dead and reached the remnants of Prophetstown.  The village once run by Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa had been partially rebuilt, with a large Kickapoo encampment nearby.  Both were deserted.  The army burnt the camp and the remains of Prophetstown and kept looking for their enemy.

On Wildcat Creek, a Winnebago village was found abandoned, the Natives having left in the face of the advancing White force.  Hopkins sent a detachment of men to burn that, as well.  On November 21, a Native fired on an advance scouting party, that hurried back to the main force, leaving a dead soldier behind.  On November 22, a detachment rode out to recover the body and found the severed head stuck on a pole, with a lone Native warrior standing beside it.  Incensed, some of the Indiana militia charged at the lone warrior who fled, leading them right into an ambush.  Shawnee, Winnebago and Kickapoo warriors, perhaps under the command of Kumakskau, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa's brother, open fire, killing twelve men.  The remainder put their spurs to their horses and fled back where they'd come.  Eventual losses were 17 killed and 3 wounded.

Scouts of the American force later learned that a larger party of Native warriors was heading toward Hopkins' main position.  A snowstorm deterred the attack.  On November 24, 1812, when the American forced reached the larger Native camp, it was abandoned.  The men turned back to Vincennes, several of them suffering from frostbite.  Samuel Hopkins was so worn out and depressed from his losses that he resigned his command.  He was brought before a court-martial and whitewashed, later becoming a Senator.

The exact location of the battle remains a mystery.  Each year, local reenactors commemorate this battle, one of the westernmost of the War of 1812.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Natives versus Settlers: Battle of Holy Ground (Econochaca), December 13, 1813

Tecumseh's movement, particularly the repudiation of White people, their ways and goods and a return to traditional practices and values, spread far beyond Ohio and Indiana Territory.  Not only did Tecumseh journey to other tribes to spread his message and seek allies for his confederacy, Native leaders journeyed to Prophetstown on the banks of the Wabash in what is now Indiana to seek further direction from him and his brother Tenskwatawa.  One of those leaders was Josiah Francis, himself a mixed race Muscogee, who had turned his back on the European side of his heritage.

When Josiah Francis returned to Alabama, he quickly gained fame as a prophet, spreading Tenskwatawa's teachings.  He built a palisaded village on the banks of Alabama River in what is now Lowndes County and many Creek warriors flocked their with their families.  As the Muscogee people divided themselves into White Sticks, who continued to seek alliances with the United States and accommodate Settlers, and Red Sticks, who sought a return to traditional ways of life.  The sticks referred to clubs or wands decorated in the traditional colors of war (red) and peace (white).  Red Stick leaders including Peter McQueen, William Weatheford and Josiah Francis also sought alliance with Great Britain and Spain in the windup to the War of 1812. 

McQueen was ambushed in June, 1813, while retrieving an allotment of weapons and ammunition provided by Spanish agents in Florida, at the Battle of Burnt Corn.  Francis and Weatherford had led warriors against Fort Mims in August, 1813, killing Whites and mixed race people, but leaving Black slaves alone.  The states of Tennessee and Georgia, and the territorial authorities in what is now Alabama and Mississippi hurriedly scraped together militias to deal with this threat.  And, they had allies.  Pushmataha of the Choctaw had personally debated Tecumseh.  He had little patience for the Shawnee's ideas.  He offered to lead his warriors against the Red Sticks, believing that their revolt would do more harm than good to Natives in the region.

In December, 1813, General Ferdinand Claiborne led 1,000 Mississippi militia against Francis' encampment on the Alabama River.  Called Econochaca, meaning either Beloved Ground or Sacred Ground, it was known to Whites as Holy Ground.  Pushmataha was in command of 150 Choctaws.  As this force approached the village, Weatherford quickly evacuated women, children and other non-combatants, knowing that his 230 men couldn't protect everyone.  His men held off the militia long enough to allow these people to escape before retreating.  Weatherford became a legend among Whites and Natives alike for jumping his horse, Arrow, off a bluff into the Alabama River to escape and fight another day.  When the militia entered the village, they found it empty.  They burnt the village and destroyed the Creek food supplies.  It would take more battles to settle this war.