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Savages and Scoundrels

Savages and Scoundrels: The Great Treaty at Horse Creek and the Making of America

Paul VanDevelder
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Savages and Scoundrels
    Book Description:

    What really happened in the early days of our nation? How was it possible for white settlers to march across the entire continent, inexorably claiming Native American lands for themselves? Who made it happen, and why? This gripping book tells America's story from a new perspective, chronicling the adventures of our forefathers and showing how a legacy of repeated betrayals became the bedrock on which the republic was built.

    Paul VanDevelder takes as his focal point the epic federal treaty ratified in 1851 at Horse Creek, formally recognizing perpetual ownership by a dozen Native American tribes of 1.1 million square miles of the American West. The astonishing and shameful story of this broken treaty-one of 371 Indian treaties signed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries-reveals a pattern of fraudulent government behavior that again and again displaced Native Americans from their lands. VanDevelder describes the path that led to the genocide of the American Indian; those who participated in it, from cowboys and common folk to aristocrats and presidents; and how the history of the immoral treatment of Indians through the twentieth century has profound social, economic, and political implications for America even today.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14250-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. INTRODUCTION Kicking the Loose Stones Home
    (pp. xi-xx)

    Like most American families whose widely flung ancestors arrived on these shores more than a generation or two ago, the thick trunk of my family tree is held upright by a tangled ball of far-ranging roots. Today, our family gene pool runs as deep and wide as the ocean our ancestors crossed to get here. In our case, most of our familial DNA is easily traced back to a point where the individual strands vanish in the mists of time in Holland, Belgium, England, Ireland, and Scotland. But thanks to reasons known only to my maternal grandmother Julia, who took...

  4. ONE Redeeming Eden
    (pp. 1-27)

    When morning broke bright and clear across the northern high plains, shot through with angular streamers of sunlight that ignited the greening crowns of cottonwoods along the big river and lit the wall beside her bed, nothing about the sound of the honkers feeding in the grain fields, or the yipping howls of the little wolves in the gooseberry creek bottom, keened for Louise Holding Eagle the last day of the world.

    It was a frosty morning in late May 1951, just a few days after she and her husband, Matthew, and their two children, celebrated her twenty-first birthday with...

  5. TWO Savages and Scoundrels
    (pp. 28-68)

    As waterlogged citizens of Iowa and Nebraska were mopping up and counting livestock in the days that followed the March flood of 1943, an Army Air Corps enlistee named Martin Cross was headed home to Elbowoods on a Greyhound bus from his training camp in the state of Washington. It was a two-day trip from downtown Seattle to the oneroom café and bus depot in the railspur community of Garrison, North Dakota. Martin Cross stepped down off the bus into a beautiful spring day. He threw his duffel over his shoulder and walked the five blocks to the U.S. Post...

  6. THREE White Men in Paradise
    (pp. 69-112)

    When the Eightieth Congress found itself wrestling with the legal ambiguity of Indian trust lands on the Upper Missouri River, men like Felix Cohen and Joseph O’Mahoney understood implicitly that they were modern hostages to a history shrouded in the mists of antiquity. This particular legal paradox could trace its origins to the royal courts of Elizabethan England. The parent of that sixteenth-century precept in turn followed its pedigree back through the legal luminaries of discovery-era Spain, and from there through the scholastic codifications of natural law by Thomas Aquinas in thirteenth-century Paris, and ultimately to Pope Urban II’s Council...

  7. [Illustration]
    (pp. None)
  8. FOUR Pioneers of the World
    (pp. 113-157)

    William Wirt was a reluctant but conscientious conscript into the Cherokee’s war with Georgia. In many respects, he was the intellectual and moral mentor to Felix Cohen, who freely quoted Wirt’s principled arguments in hisHandbook of Federal Indian Law.Throughout his career Wirt was a tireless defender of native rights, but that did not prevent his brother-in-law, Governor Gilmer of Georgia, from scoffing with contempt at Wirt’s latest gamble. Wirt was worried that the governor, for all the wrong reasons, might have a narrow point on which to grind the ax of states’ rights. Among the Constitution’s many problematic...

  9. FIVE The Great Smoke
    (pp. 158-200)

    When Thomas Fitzpatrick arrived at Fort Laramie in late July, he was bearing disappointing news of his own. On the road north from Bent’s Fort on the Arkansas River—from which he had sent messengers to find the larger southwestern tribes—word reached him that the Comanche and the Apache would not be attending the Great Smoke at Fort Laramie. This was discouraging news, and although their rebuff of Fitzpatrick’s personal invitation was not entirely unexpected, it deflated the commissioner’s already tempered expectations for the peace council. The outnumbered Apache had receded into the relative safety of the southwestern mountains,...

  10. SIX Monsters of God
    (pp. 201-244)

    While Thomas Fitzpatrick was busy escorting the tribal leaders from the Horse Creek council on a tour of the seats of power and industry along the Atlantic seaboard, Father De Smet returned to his bookkeeping duties at the Jesuit residence at St. Louis University. Cloistered in semi-seclusion at the abbey, he spent two and a half weeks drawing a formal map that would be presented to Congress, along with Mitchell’s final report on the Fort Laramie treaty. During most of that time, Alexander Culbertson was on the trail with the Village Indians, finally arriving back at Fort Union in a...

  11. APPENDIX: Treaty of Fort Laramie (Horse Creek), 1851
    (pp. 245-248)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 249-280)
    (pp. 281-303)
    (pp. 304-306)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 307-322)