Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem

Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem

Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem

Red Cloud and the Sioux Problem

Excerpt

The unleashing of the pent-up forces of western expansion at the end of the Civil War brought the knotty problem of Indian affairs in the West to a crisis. Stripped to its essentials, the problem was the ancient one that always arose when one people attempted to dispossess another of their lands. Since it was as old as European colonization in North America and no satisfactory solution had been found for it, the history of Indian affairs had been replete with crises. But in the past the process of dispossession had been gradual, and the dispossessed had always had some place to go. Now, however, in the words of Bvt. Maj. Gen. John Pope, commanding the Military Division of the Missouri, the nation was "at one grasp seizing the whole region of country occupied by the Indians and plunging them without warning into suffering and starvation." As a result:

The Indian, in truth, has no longer a country. His lands are everywhere pervaded by white men; his means of subsistence destroyed and the homes of his tribe violently taken from him; himself and his family reduced to starvation, or to the necessity of warring to the death upon the white man, whose inevitable and destructive progress threatens the total extermination of his race.... The Indians, driven to desperation and threatened with starvation, have everywhere commenced hostilities against the whites, and are carrying them on with a fury and courage unknown to their history . . .

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