Thursday, November 27, 2008

Am I Not Human?

Last month, I agreed to be a part of a movement to focus on human rights violations on the 27th of each month. Since today is the 27th and also, as it happens, the day most people in the United States call "Thanksgiving Day," I have decided to feature a listing from the Peace Buttons "This Week in Peace and Social Justice" newsletter. On November 29th, 1864:

"A U.S. Army cavalry regiment under Col. J. M. Chivington (a Methodist missionary and candidate for Congress), acting on orders from Colorado's Governor, John Evans, and ignoring a white surrender flag flying just below a U.S. flag, attacked sleeping Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, killing nearly 500, in what became known as the Sand Creek Massacre. Captain Silas Soule, however, not only refused to follow Chivington's lead at Sand Creek, but ordered his troops not to participate in the attack.

"The Indians, led by Black Kettle, had been ordered away from Fort Lyon four days before, with the promise that they would be safe. Virtually all of the victims, mostly women and children, were tortured and scalped; many women, including the pregnant, were mutilated. Nine of 900 cavalrymen were killed. A local newspaper called this 'a brilliant feat of arms,' and stated the soldiers had 'covered themselves with glory.'

"At first, Chivington was widely praised for his 'victory' at the 'Battle' of Sand Creek, and he and his troops were honored with a parade in Denver. However, rumors of drunken soldiers butchering unarmed women and children began to circulate and Congress ordered a formal investigation of the massacre. Chivington was eventually threatened with court martial by the U.S. Army, but as he had already left his military post, no criminal charges were ever filed against him."

You can read the Congressional testimony of an eye-witness here.

This should give us all something to think about and talk about as we pass the stuffing...


Villager said...

Thank you for participating in the Am I Not Human? blogging campaign. I seem to recall that this story was portrayed in a western movie that I watched not long ago. America was born on the backs of many of the Original Americans.

I wonder if things are better for the Indian nations today in 2008?

peace, Villager

Changeseeker said...

Good morning, Villager! My understanding is that what is left of the indigenous peoples of North America continue to suffer greatly economically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially. The primary reason (aside from the fact that Europeans stole their land and murdered resisters) has been the on-slaught on the culture. A good film on this is "In the White Man's Image". This is, of course, exactly what was done (and is still being done) to people of African descent, as well.

Eddie G. Griffin said...

Thank you for remembering. It's ironic that they made the day after Thankgiving Native American Day.

Changeseeker said...

"Ironic," indeed, Eddie. In fact, I think it's a slap (in an attempt to defuse the negativism that's brewing over the whole idea of "Thanksgiving Day"). I've already decided to start celebrating with loved ones on a different day altogether in November and then turn Thanksgiving into a day of action to raise consciousness. I know others are doing similar stuff, as well. Thanks for dropping by.