A Quizzical Glimpse of Native American History

Most people are familiar with the saying “To the victor go the spoils,” which includes writing (or rewriting) history books to justify defeating the enemy.

With that in mind, see how many of the following questions you can answer correctly.


1. True/False King Ferdinand was given permission to kill indigenous people or make them their slaves by the pope.


2. How many tribal nations have a formal nation-to-nation relationship with the U.S. Government?

a. 14

b. 567

c. 173


3. How many federal and state-recognized American Indian reservations are there?

a. 492

b. 39

c. 334


4. How many states have a recognized American Indian reservation?

a. 35

b. 9

c. 17


5. True/False The Founding Fathers were sympathetic toward Native Americans and recognized their rights under the Declaration of Independence.


6. True/False The Declaration of Independence’s statement that “all men are created equal” included Native Americans.


7. What was the reason for the majority of U.S. Government – Indian wars?

a. White settlers occupying Indian land in violation of treaties

b. U.S. Government ignoring existing treaties due to westward expansion.

c. Loss of livelihood and hunting grounds to encroachment by white settlers.

d. All of the above


8. Indian people are categorized by culture and geography. Which of the following are NOT considered culture areas?

a. Arctic, subarctic, Northwest Coast, Plateau

b. Great Basin, California, Southwest, Mesoamerica

c. Great Plains, Northeast, Southeast, Caribbean

d. None of the above


9. In the early 19th Century, Sequoyah, a Cherokee polymath from the Little Tennessee Valley created:

a. A list of treaty violations to present to the U.S. Congress

b. The allotment system to assign land to individuals

c. A syllabary of 86 ornate characters


10. Which of the following places are based on Native American names?

a. Allegheny, Alaska, Adirondack

b. Biloxi, Caddo, Chattanooga

c. Hatteras, Erie, Huron

d. Wyoming, Winnebago, Wichita

e. All of the above


ANSWERS

1. True. The first papal bull issued for King Ferdinand in Spain after Columbus returned from the Caribbean stated: “All people of North America are no better than feral animals and may be slaughtered at will.” 

And that bull was followed by another that accompanied the North American land grants: “All land grants will be governed by the same rules as the land grants in Spain, to which you have been accustomed. Thus, as usual, any people populating your land defined by the land grant here issued are your slaves.”

2. b. 567 tribal nations

3. c. 334 reservations

4. a. 35 states with reservations

5. False. George Washington was known as Town Destroyer in the Seneca language based on the decimated cornfields and razed villages he promoted. Thomas Jefferson as Governor of Virginia, ordered a war of extermination against the Shawnee.

6. Following that “created equal” statement it states “except the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

Yes, it really says that. The Natives were accused of being savages for defending their homeland while as one example, at Sand Creek the U.S. Army slaughtered innocent Native Americans who were literally flying the U.S. Flag with a white banner of surrender.

Custer did, indeed, have it coming.

I find it ironic that following WWII the U.S. was more than generous helping to rebuild war zones of former enemies in Germany and Japan, yet few promises made to this country’s original residents have been kept.

7. d. All of the above are reasons for the U.S. – Indian Wars.

The “Manifest Destiny” attitude of America’s early European explorers and subsequent settlers toward the country’s native population was overtly hostile. Land that was virtually stolen, deceptive treaties of which the Indigenous signers were not advised of their true content, and treaties to which both signatories agreed but Congress never ratified are but a part of the sordid tale.

Too many members of the Native population live in substandard conditions with many reservations comparable to a Third World Country and comprise some of the poorest counties in the United States. Yet now the government proposes giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to illegal aliens for being “inconvenienced.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

8. d. None of the above. All represent designated cultural areas.

9. c. A syllabary of 86 characters based on the sound of syllables in the Cherokee language

10. e. All of the above. Hundreds, more likely thousands, of places in the U.S. and Canada retain their Native American names.


SCORES BASED ON NUMBER CORRECT

9 – 10 Cheated or has a college degree in Native American History.

7 – 8 Assumed this was an open-book quiz.

5 – 6 Fan of Longmire series on Netflix.

3 – 4 A few lucky guesses.

0 – 2 Don’t waste your money on lotto tickets.


Swallow your pride and leave your scores below.

“Return to Dead Horse Canyon: Grandfather Spirits” Now Available!

The suspense-laden sequel to triple award winning “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” is now available!

In honor of Native American Heritage Month both this new release as well as its predecessor, “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits,” are on sale in ebook format for only $0.99 through November 30, 2021.

If you’ve read the first book, no doubt you’ve been wondering what happens now that Charlie and Sara have discovered what her husband, Bryan, discovered that cost him his life.

While Charlie swore to avenge his white brother’s death, the path to do so remains unclear.

His job with Lone Star Operations allows him to use his college education and earn a generous income. However, it conflicts with everything he knows to be right. Is violating the Earth wrong or not? Little does he realize that his work will ultimately return him to the Northern Cheyenne reservation where his true destiny will manifest in ways he never imagined.

Sara is determined to fulfill Bryan’s last request to expose the government corruption coupled with the lethal forces that stole his life. Releasing the scandalous Top Secret data via WikiLeaks infuriates those with much to lose, which places her in the cross-hairs of a hired killer.

While miles apart, each struggles with life-threatening situations as a result of their dedication to Bryan’s legacy. Their lives remain entangled through a series of fateful decisions and circumstances that define a future fraught with unknowns for them both.

The books are available through the following links with more vendors to follow in the coming days. Remember that reviews are pure gold to authors and help other readers decide on whether a book is right for them.

Book 1:

Amazon Affiliate Link

Barnes and Noble

Google Play

Other eBook Vendors

Book 2

Amazon Affiliate Link

Barnes and Noble

Google Play

Smashwords

Veterans’ Day Kudos to Native Americans

Ira Hayes, one of the soldiers depicted in the iconic statue of the Marines raising the American flag at Iwo Jima, was a Code Talker.
[Picture attribution: By Famartin – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link]

It’s Native American Heritage Month as well as Veterans’ Day, the perfect time to show appreciation for the many astouding contributions Native Americans have made to the U.S. Military. Their participation rate is higher, 19% having served in the armed forces versus 14% of other ethnic groups. Furthermore, even though they were exempt from the draft, many enlisted.

The “warrior tradition” of Native American tribes was mostly squashed once they were exiled to reservations, yet their love for their country and willingness to defend it remained. They already dealt with the consequences of one “foreign invader” stealing their land. The prospect of things getting even worse with another one was not an acceptable option.

It’s ironic that in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Native Americans were forced by the U.S. Government to leave their traditions behind, including their languages. Fortunately, however, their many dialects survived, a fact that was a major factor in U.S. victory during World Wars I and II.

Choctaws in training in World War I for coded radio and telephone transmissions. [Wikipedia]

During that time their unique, unwritten languages were perfect candidates for development into code. If you’re unfamiliar with the “Code Talkers,” here’s a brief summary, courtesy of Wikipedia:

 “…there were approximately 400 to 500 Native Americans in the United States Marine Corps whose primary job was to transmit secret tactical messages. Code talkers transmitted messages over military telephone or radio communications nets using formally or informally developed codes built upon their native languages. The code talkers improved the speed of encryption and decryption of communications in front line operations during World War II.

Comanche code talkers of the 4th Signal Company [Wikipedia]

There were two code types used during World War II. Type one codes were formally developed based on the languages of the several tribes, including the Lakota, Crow, Comanche, Hopi, Meskwaki, Seminole, and Navajo peoples. They used words from their languages for each letter of the English alphabet. Messages could be encoded and decoded by using a simple substitution cipher where the ciphertext was the native language word. Type two code was informal and directly translated from English into the native language. If there was no word in the native language to describe a military word, code talkers used descriptive words. For example, the Navajo did not have a word for submarine so they translated it to iron fish.”

Navajo Code Talkers, Saipan, 1944 [Wikipedia]

Several tribes were represented during the course of various wars and campaigns, including the Navajo, Comanche, Hopi, Meskwaki, Cherokee, Choctaw, Cree, Mohawk, Muscogee (Seminole and Creek), and Tlingit. Military and government honors have been bestowed on them for their contribution, in some cases years later because it couldn’t occur until the program was declassified.

Micah Highwalking, U.S. Military Academy 2010 graduate.

If you’re a history buff, especially as it relates to intelligence encryption, you’ll want to check this out further. Wikipedia has a comprehensive article at here and Military Times published an outstanding piece which includes interviews with former Code Talkers here.

Clearly this honorable tradition is continuing today for both Native men and women. The first Northern Cheyenne to graduate from West Point was Micah Highwalking. As of her 2010 graduation date, she was one of only five Native Americans to accomplish that honor. You can read more about her on Facebook here.

On this special day all former and current members of our military deserve our respect and gratitude, but especially the many Native Americans from all tribes who willingly fought beside those who had previously been their foe. It’s notable that on Veterans’ Day 2020 the Smithsonian Institute dedicated the National Native American Veterans’ Memorial. You can learn more about it here and watch their virtual message in the following video (17:25 min).


OTHER RESOURCES

Print

Available from Southwest Indian Foundation Website

The Navajo Codetalkers

Video Introduction to the book (3 min)

Video

Wyoming PBS Special on Native American Veterans (27 min)

Help Native American Veterans

If you’d like to show your appreciation for their service by helping Native American veterans, Native American Veterans’ Assistance (NAVA) does exactly that. Their website is here and their donation page is here.