Ken Burns helped me imagine what this would have looked like before the slaughter of the buffalo by the tens of millions in the nineteenth century by the white settlers and the US Army: He described it as the American Serengeti, filled with grizzly bears, cougars, elk, moose and bison. Burns described it as a Garden of Eden, where the Indigenous peoples of North America lived in harmony with nature for 600 generations.
The GOP and their followers probably don't want this part of native american/white settler history taught either; because it will make them "uncomfortable". Too bad. It's real and should be taught to those who are unfamiliar with it and shouldn't be forgotten by any of us. Never. Ever.
Extraordinary column today. Chief Joseph's speech in DC has impact, wisdom and sincerity. All Americans need to hear it. Wouldn't it be incredible if a congress person read it?
My heartbreaks reading this. The injustice brought to this country by the “white man” is horrific. We have learned nothing and to a certain degree, I don’t think many want to learn anything. Our white superiority thinking continues to this day.
Last night I watched Expedition Unknown on the origins of man. It is my go to serious of shows when I have had enough. I laughed and laugh every time I have seen this episode because of the evolving theory of man coming from Africa.
Have been thinking about the versus in the Bible that speaks of God forming us in the womb. I often wonder how “Christians” justify their hate when they speak of these versus. Did God only form white, straight people?
Sitting outside, looking at the mist over the river this morning, I am reminded that I sit on land that was once the home of Indigenous tribes. Within a short walking distance is a small plaque, on a rock, marking this fact.
Thanks for this, Steve. And thank you for a break from the Trump show.
“What a tragedy it is that more Americans know who Marjorie Taylor Greene is than this great man. Here is Chief Joseph’s surrender speech:”---Steve Schmidt
Good morning Steve, another great newsletter as always. Even more of a tragedy is having to put MTG in the same sentence as Chief Joseph; it must have been painful to you as reading it is to all of us who subscribe to your newsletter.
As for this whole Newsom controversy, its ludicrous. Who cares what the Biden administration, and especially Harris’s team thinks about Newsom debating DeSatan. As far as Harris’s team goes, most of her advisors will be gone in six months, so it’s irrelevant away.
And Biden should be happy with Newsom debating. It will give them great insight into how republicans expect to attack Biden in the general debates, especially should DeSatan prevail in the “tin-foil” hat primary. It’s a win-win and America will get a taste of the next generations of American leaders, hoping to be handed the baton and serve in higher office.
As I’ve said ad nauseam, I don’t t like coronations at all. We fought to rid ourselves of a mad king and his monarchy, and now we’re closer than ever to becoming a full blown authoritarian kakistocracy.
And I agree with you wholeheartedly. Trump could easily win. This race shouldn’t even be close. Trump is a criminal who has been impeached twice. I won’t bother reiterating all his indictments, since were all to aware of them as well as the stakes of this election.
We used to chose the lessor of two evils for president. Now we left fighting for democracy itself. This should galvanize most Americans to vote against tyranny. Yet, here we are, closer to authoritarian rule than anytime in our short (almost 250 year) history.
It’s mind blowing and scary!.
I’ve been listening to the Ken Burns interview in segments. Each time I relive the near annihilation of Native-American people and their cultures and the plight of the American Buffalo masterminded by strategic and intentional war tactics, I’m sickened. The depth of inhumanity and greed rips my heart and Joseph Conrad’s words from Heart of Darkness echo in my mind---the horror, oh, the horror. It’s a painful burden to bare.
We are a nation that seems to forget easily as if to turn the page on a troubled past. Our treatment of the indigenous people and Afro-Americans has been atrocious. The mistakes and treatment should be taught in schools and learned from so the generations to come do not make the same mistakes as we and our ancestors did.
Chief Joseph's words are words of strength in a time of weakness where his people were being chased and pursued. They could not take time to hunt or gather belongings in fear of being wiped out. The old and young were dying of exhaustion and the elements. It must have been difficult dealing with white men who did not honor their words or commitments. White men who took to where there was no more to take from these brave people then they were driven from their ancestral lands.
The Republican policy of whitewashing American history from school books is offensive. I am a white male of an advanced age and I am troubled by this policy. Mistakes are repeated when not learned and taught to future generations. Mistakes should not be treated as weaknesses but as learning experiences. You become stronger with knowledge and weaker if you do not learn from mistakes. We are stronger as a country when united. Let us set aside our past petty grievances and learn from each other and treat each other with respect for all life not just your own.
Before I read this, I read that in FL, for AP History, they sought “opposing views of slavery” - meaning finding those who thought it was good. As @Kent Dills wrote, the actions and words quoted in your essay, Steve, must be taught and never forgotten. They aren’t taught and are forgotten. How grateful I am to have met Dani Not-Help-Him long ago to learn more that I wasn’t taught.
Now after reading, and crying of people still mistreated, I will find more ways to act. The hate I the US, the world, overwhelms me.
Chief Joseph's words were prescient and a sacred prayer to the great chief above for peace, justice and equality.
Reading this, looking at how the MAGA movement wants to rewrite history and considering Pope Francis’ comments on the US RC church, you can see the movement away from accountability.
Only by facing what we, and this is a collective we, can we understand what happened, the pain caused and how we can change the present and the future. We are all accountable for how we go forward. How do we right the wrongs? What steps do we take What actions must we undertake.
This history is exactly the kind of history that Ron DeSantis and his ilk want to ban.
Thank you Steve for this moving and relevant posting. It is perfect for our current times.
“Such a government has something wrong about it” and now has so much more. I start my day early reading Heather Cox Richardson and The Warning. Today I almost couldn’t finish HCR, as she talked of one of our current and very active Republican “wrongs”-rampant racism and white supremacy. I am glad to read Chief Joseph’s speeches-both of them. Thanks to Steve’s making this known, I will read more about Chief Joseph and definitely save these.
I have been active in many ways in my 76 years and have been fortunate to be part of a senior group who deals with social justice issues, reads great books, works on local environmental projects but am stunned by the disturbing parts of our American history that I learn everyday. It especially disturbs me when I know via substack I’m preaching to the choir.
Beyond my senior group I have smart, educated friends who never heard of substack and get their information fro mainstream news which rarely covers and often misrepresents issues of extreme importance for the sake of saving our democracy and our planet. Thanks to President Biden’s recent change to our thieving medical rules as set by Congress and lobbyists, I now know that history. I just keep asking myself “What kind of people are we?”
You are a generous soul, Steve, and the wealth you share is your staggering knowledge of US History, but moreover, your unique perspective and humanity in presenting that history. Thank you.
I loved your conversation with Ken Burns. The two of you are great American patriots. Power on.
Enjoy the Great Plains. What an amazing part of the country. More people need to see the expanses in size, cultures, and climes we should cherish more each day in this land. It would give an appreciation to our strength through diversity, help bring back respect for the Mother Earth Chief and show without doubt we are a land large enough to still accommodate those seeking safety at our shores. Enjoy your freedom and happiness excursion.
Why is the common denominator of these types of accounts the white man? Truer words indeed:
There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike. Give them the same laws. Give them all an even chance to live and grow. All men were made by the same Great Spirit Chief. They are all brothers.
Can't wait for the documentary. Thank you for sharing this truth with us.