Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday's Forgotten Books: Through Indian Eyes (The Untold Story of Native American Peoples)

My pick for our non-fiction FFB is Reader's Digest Through Indian Eyes The Untold Story of Native American Peoples (1995). I'll let this profound book speak for itself with first a passage on the Sand Creek massacre and then some quotes from some notable Native Americans. The following is from Chapter 9, "Paths of War and Survival"...

Just after sunrise on December 28, 1864, the ragtag troops, lead by a former clergyman, Col. John M. Chivington, found a quiet encampment of Cheyenne and Arapaho families along Sand Creek. Here they had set up their teepees as ordered by posts commander at Fort Lyon, to whom they had surrender two months earlier. The leader at Sand Creek was the Cheyenne peace chief, Black Kettle.

"As soon as he saw the soldiers coming, Black Kettle called out to them and tried to talk, and raised an American Flag up on a pole and moved it back and forth hoping the soldiers would stop. But they did not." -–John Stands in Timber, Northern Cheyenne
In a matter of minutes Chivington delivered his infamous battle cry—“Kill them all, big and small, nits make lice.”—and his men attacked. Young and old, male and female, every Indian was fair game. A seventy-year-old war chief named White Antelope sang his death song—Nothing lives long, except the earth and the mountains—before he crumpled under a hail of bullets.

"I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces," an eyewitness later testified, "worse mutilated than any I ever saw before, the women all cut to pieces... Children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors." Of 123 dead, nearly 100 were women and children.

"I am a red man. If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man he would have made me so in the first place. Now we are poor but we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die we die defending our rights." --Sitting Bull, Hunkpapa Sioux

"I am alone in the world. I want to live in these mountains; I do not want to go to Tularosa. That is a long way off. The bad spirits live there. I have drunk of these waters and they have cooled me. I do not want to leave here." --Cochise, Chiricahua Apache

"Speak, Americans...I will not lie to you; do not lie to me." --Cochise, Chiricahua Apache

"If we possessed such large canoes, we would follow you to your land and conquer it, for we too are men." --Unknown Native to a Spaniard after De Soto's raids.

"I have a little boy....If he is not dead, tell him the last words of his father were that he must never go beyond the Father of Waters, but die in the land of his birth. It is sweet to die in one's native land and be buried by the margin of one's native stream." --Tsali, Cherokee shaman, awaiting execution, 1838

"We are exceedingly tired. We have just heard of the ratification of the Choctaw Treaty. Our doom is sealed. There is no other course for us but to turn our faces to our new homes toward the setting sun." --David Folsom, Choctaw, 1830

"We had no churches, no religious organizations, no sabbath day, no holidays, and yet we worshiped. Sometimes the whole tribe would assemble to sing or pray; sometimes in a small number, perhaps only two or three. Sometimes we prayed in silence, sometimes each one prayed aloud." --Geronimo, Apache war chief

"Today is a good day to fight—today is a good day to die." --Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux

"We did not ask you white men to come here. We do not want your civilization—we would live as our fathers did and their fathers before them." --Crazy Horse, Oglala Sioux

For more Friday's Forgotten Books, go to Patti Abbott's blog here.


Laurie Powers said...

Thanks for making this your FFB, David. Is this a compilation of first-person accounts of Native Americans?

Bee said...

I particularly enjoyed reading the words of some of these Native Americans. Last night, I was reading The Long Winter to my daughter, and there was an interesting scene where an elderly "Indian" showed up in town to warn the white settlers that it was going be a hard winter.

BTW, I stopped by to tell you that I admired how you visited everyone in Barrie Summy's book review club. You left such kind, supportive comments.

David Cranmer said...

Laurie, It's a mixture of history, first-person accounts and extraordinary pictures and art. This would go along well with your Frontier Medicine that you reviewed on your blog. As a matter of fact, I'm ordering Medicine with my next Amazon batch.

Bee, Native American history is compelling and addictive. I have several books on the topic and it never ceases to astound me what these extraordinary people went through.

And thank you. It's a real pleasure to stop by other blogs to find out what genres people are reading and the excitement they have for a particular book.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I knew your choice would be along these lines and as always you did the book a great service in your review of it. You are a gentleman; Bee is right.

Terrie Farley Moran said...


What an excellent book choice. The quotes are absolutely stirring.


RReynolds said...

The comments are heartbreaking especially the one from Tsali.

David Cranmer said...

Patti, I should forward all compliments to my mom who would smile.

Terri, Thanks.

RReynolds, Yeah, that quote stood out to me as well. A father who doesn’t even know whether his son is alive leaving such a heartfelt message.

Scott D. Parker said...

David - I've already told my wife about this book. She really enjoys reading about Native Americans and, with the first-person narratives, she'll definitely want this one.

Kerby Jackson said...


Thanks for posting this. It definitely looks like a book to pick up.


Kerby Jackson

Diane said...

Never heard of the Sand Creek Massacre and became engrossed with your links. It's disgusting that Chivington was able to live out his life. How can anyone live with themselves after killing innocent children?

Todd Mason said...

Thanks for citing this one, David. Sometimes, such clumsy products as John Ehle's THE TRAIL OF TEARS: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CHEROKEE NATION, or even BLACK ELK SPEAKS, are put forward as representative of the native nations and peoples...not even close. The quotations are also more than useful.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

Wow...and I thought FATAL VISION was chilling! This is emotional material. So many innocent tragic. You chose phenomenal quotes to include in your post. Thanks for sharing this book with us.

David Cranmer said...

Scott, It’s a great reference book for historians and those interested in learning more about our history.

Kerby, No problem and thanks for stopping by. I will link to your site a little later.

Diane, I’m not sure how many of these acts could have been inflicted and a lot of this history is very difficult to read without becoming angry but it’s definitely important to know.

Todd, A big part of this book is the Native Americans in their own words and that more than anything else separates this book from others.

Kathleen, Thanks. And you had me reading the whole Jeffery MacDonald story again. Hard to believe he married in 2002 and still claims to be "factually innocent."

Leah J. Utas said...

David, this is wonderful. I found the quotes compelling.
It's good to be reminded of genocide in one's own back yard.

David Cranmer said...

Leah, Unfortunately we don't seem to learn from our history.

Barrie said...

Very interesting, David.

David Cranmer said...

I'm glad you found it so. Their culture never ceases to intrigue me.