The settlers who exterminated the Indians in America

wagons of old american settlers

The communal property of the land was broken – the principle of territoriality in which the Indians established their rights; They no longer had to be dealt with with the tribal councils, but with their “owners” who, as such, had to pay taxes to the State for plots that they ended up selling to greedy merchants and traffickers, who acquired them at paltry prices or they exchanged them for trinkets or weapons or drinks, to impoverished, naked beings, decimated by the epidemics of measles, whooping cough and mumps (spread by the target) and also drunk by design of Providence that used rum to extirpate to that inferior race and to make room for the farmers, as Benjamin Franklin says in his autobiography: “.

If it was the design of Providence to eradicate those savages and make room for the cultivators of the land, it does not seem unlikely that rum was the indicated medium. It has already annihilated all the tribes that formerly inhabited the coast ”.

It was not caricatured when it was said that the colonists presented themselves to the Indians carrying in one hand a purchase contract for their land, in the other a bottle of rum, a bible under their arms and a rifle on their backs.

Defense of the land

For their part, the Cherokee, defending their immemorial rights to the land and opposing their deportation, said in their plea to the authorities of the state of Georgia – the most fierce and rapacious enemy of the Indians – on November 19, 1828:

“When our forefathers came to our shores, the red man was strong, and though ignorant and wild, he received them kindly and allowed them to rest their numb feet on the dry land. Our parents and yours shook hands in friendship and lived in peace. Everything that the white man asked to satisfy his needs, the Indian hastened to grant him. The Indian was then the owner of everything and the white man who begged. Today the scene has changed; the red man’s strength has turned to weakness .

As his enemies grew in number, his power diminished more and more; And now, of so many powerful tribes as they covered the surface of what you call the United States, only a few remain that have escaped universal disaster.

The tribes of the North, once so renowned among us for their might, have all but disappeared. Such has been the fate of the red man in America. Here we are the last of our race. Should we die?

“From time immemorial, our common father who is in heaven, gave to our ancestors the land that we occupy; they have passed it on to us as an inheritance. We have preserved it with respect, as it contains its ashes. This inheritance, have we ever given it or lost it? Let us humbly ask you what better right can a people have to a country than the right of inheritance and immemorial possession.

We know that the State of Georgia and the President of the United States maintain that we have lost that right. But this seems to us a gratuitous argument. At what time did we lose it? What crime have we committed that could deprive us of our homeland? Are we accused of having fought under the banner of the King of Great Britain during the war of independence?”.


Still, the Cherokees were forced to march, as already stated. Jackson offered them the protection of his government and the assurance that there (west of the Mississippi) the “white brother” would not go to bother them: “he would not have a right over your lands; there you and your children will be able to live, in the midst of peace and abundance, for as long as the grass grows and the streams flow: they will belong to you forever ”. And the same grass had not yet grown, and the same stream waters were still flowing, when the greedy ‘pale faces’ went west of the Mississippi and took 139,000,000 acres from the ‘savages’.

It was believed that the solution to the “Indian problem” was to lock them up in concentration camps called reservations, and for that they were assigned arid and uninhabitable lands for the white; But they were also stripped of them, and their game animals were exterminated by the ‘Buffalo Bills’ – in 1878 alone they killed five million buffaloes.

They then came to be supported by government provisions and by annual allowances in money that they lost on games or spent on rum and brandy, which they received in exchange for land.

‘Offensive and predatory’

Condemned to inertia, vice and robbery by “offensive and predatory” government agents, José Martí saw them in 1885 –as Tocqueville had seen them fifty years ago–, and they were so destitute, so poor, and so debased for the white, that President Cleveland himself relieved the conscience of the ‘pale faces’ in shuddering words: “They are drunkards and thieves because we did that to them; Well, we have to apologize for having made them drunk and thieves, and instead of exploiting and denying them, let’s give them work on their land and incentives that move them to live, that they are good, even though we have given them the right not to be ”.

It is estimated that when the Europeans arrived, there were in what is now the United States, about 1,000,000 indigenous people; in 1885 there were 300,000 survivors.

In 1900, there were 230,000; in 1970, 343,000: last descendants of a race whose heroic times were marked by the exploits of Sitting Bull and his Sioux and Cheyenne brothers in Big Horn; and those of Osceola in the swamps of Florida; and those of Jerónimo in the southwestern states; and those of Great Chief Joseph, leading the exodus of the Nez Perce from the Wallowa Valley to Canada, under harassment from the US Army; and of Sequoia, the wise chief of the Cherokee; Cochise, Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, King Philip.

Brave and courageous; To speak of them is not only to speak of the Calvary of their peoples, but of honor and war to safeguard freedom and the right to live as men on the land that sustains their roots.

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