17 November 2012

Only Good Indian is a Dead Indian

There is an anecdote told concerning Major General Sheridan during his campaign against the Indians. Comanche Chief Silver Knife reputedly told Sheridan in 1869, "Me good Indian," to which Sheridan replied, "The only good Indians I ever saw were dead."  This was then morphed as "The only good Indian is a dead Indian".

Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, 1970, Excerpts

Robert Bent [half breed], witness testimony, Cheyenne Camp, 1864:

When the troops fired, the Indians ran, some of the men into their lodges, probably to get their arms. I think there were six hundred Indians in all. I think there were thirty-five braves and some old men, about sixty in all, the rest of the men were away from camp hunting. After the firing the warriors put the squaws and children together, and surrounded them to protect them. I saw five squaws under a bank for shelter. When the troops came up to them they ran out and showed their persons to let the soldiers know they were squaws and begged for mercy, but the soldiers shot them all. I saw one squaw lying on the bank whose leg had been broken by a shell; a soldier came up to her with a drawn saber; she raised her arm to protect herself, when he struck , breaking her arm; she rolled over and raised her other arm, when he struck , breaking it, and then left her without killing her. There seemed to be indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children. There were some thirty or forty squaws collected in a hole for protection; they sent out a little girl about six years old with a white flag on a stick; she had not proceeded but a few steps when she was shot and killed. All the squaws in that hole were afterwards killed. The squaws offered no resistance. Everyone I saw was scalped. I saw one squaw cut open with an unborn child. I saw the body of White Antelope with the privates cut off, and I heard a soldier say he was going to make a tobacco pouch out of them. I saw a little girl about five years of age who had been hid in the sand; two soldiers discovered her, drew their pistols and shot her, and then pulled her out of the sand by the arm. I saw quite a number of infants in arms killed with their mothers.  

General Philip Sheridan, Sheridan Circle in Washington, D.C, sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, 1908

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