Saturday, July 13, 2013

Benevolant Government?

South Burlington, Vermont

IRS scandal, DOJ scandal, NSA scandal:  There is certainly lots of reason recently to undermine our confidence in the federal government.  This is not a political blog, so I won't be commenting on those contemporary scandals.  However, I will comment on things we saw recently on our trip.

The Rockpile Museum in Gillette, Wyoming has a special section devoted to the subject of homesteading.  The map below says that by 1900 95% of Indian lands had been lost to homesteading.

A placard in the museum also says:
The result of the United States expanding westward was devastating to many American Indian cultures.  The Government continued a long tradition of mistreatment, negotiating meaningless treaties, initiating wars, cutting off food supplies, and forcibly removing tribes from their traditional lands.  Tribes were moved to barren reservations where their survival was dependent on the U.S. Government. Most American Indians were unable to participate in homesteading until 1924 because they were not permitted to become U.S. citizens. 
The poster below reflects the sanctity afforded to Indian reservation lands.  It shames me to have my heritage on the wrong side of this history.

A few days later, we arrived at Devils Tower.  Devils Tower is regarded as sacred land by the Lakota Indians.   It became a national park in 1906, but how the land became U.S. Government land is not mentioned.  The Lakotas requested that the National Park Service forbid climbing on the tower.  They refused.   Instead, the National Park Service asked for a voluntary ban on climbing in the month of June, when Indians gather there for religious ceremonies.  We were there in mid June, and we saw climbers ignoring the voluntary ban.

June 15, 2013

A few more days and we were at The Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota.   It was a bit jarring.  It memorializes more than Chief Crazy Horse.   It also memorializes all the Indians who fought against Custer's troops in The Battle of the Little Bighorn.  But wait; these Indians massacred U.S. soldiers!  Were they heroes or domestic terrorists?

Well, if you think like I do, those Indians were just as much Americans as the white man.  The U.S. Government was not being benevolent, it was corrupt and tyrannical. Unlike Confederate soldiers in The Civil War who fought for politics, the Indians were fighting for survival.  I think Crazy Horse, Thomas Jefferson, and Edward Snowden are all entitled to admiration for their willingness to sacrifice personal safety to fight for liberty.  Only Jefferson is honored by a memorial in Washington D.C.

Is the U.S. Government primarily benevolent or tyrannical today?  Are the laws really "of the people, by the people, and for the people?"  We teach school children only the benevolent spin.  I believe that the trend is definitely toward tyranny.


  1. " Unlike Confederate soldiers in The Civil War who fought for politics, the Indians were fighting for survival."

    So let me get this straight. The US government was evil toward the Indians (prefer Native Americans- I was not aware there were people from India here back then) but not to people of the south? My two times great Grandfather was shot in the back and killed trying to keep Northern troops from burning his house down. The troops destroyed the farm. My twice great Grandmother took the seven kids and moved away. Most people down here did not fight for "politics". They fought for their freedom from your northern "evil" government. Most did not own slaves. Most were just poor farmers, facing a federal government that wanted to control their lives (and burn down their homes). Sounds like what is going on today, No? In my travels up north I have come against a lot of people with the attitude that we in the south are inbred rednecks. That is no better than people in the south thinking all northerners are liberal whiny smucks with their noses stuck up in the air. First time in many years reading your blog that I feel disturbed. Oh well nothing is perfect and I still enjoy your visits to my southern peaceful home.

  2. Good post. I'm not a civil war historian, or an expert on Native American history, but I come to the conclusion that most wars are political in nature, fed by greed, fear, or religion. The Native Americans were conquered, the South lost a political war of competing ideology. Atrocities happen in war, and still do. For me, both wars were so long ago, that they do not affect me emotionally. I do not like what we did to the Native people, and I wish that it could have been different, but they were slaughtered for their land. The Civil war has been over for so long that some folks who still hold grudges are living through history books and tales told, and not real experience. They need to treat it as such, and move on. I do consider us all Americans, either black, white, Asian, Native American, Hispanic, Indian, North, South, etc. We all live under the same flag, and until all of us recognize this, we will still live divided in many ways. Racism is something we have to evolve out of. There will be no political solution, but we must keep trying, until we see ourselves as equals, not required by law. Today I feel the government is nothing more than a tool for the rich corporations and bankers. We are corrupt. "Government of the people, by the people" almost sounds quaint now. Iraq and Afghanistan wars are political, and hyped by the press, and any words against the wars were suppressed and met with ugly retaliation. We are an empire now, and we do as we please. One can only hope that there will be change before we allow our freedom to slip away completely.

  3. It's good that you feel compassion for the plight of a people. We have to speak up when we feel injustice. If this is considered sacred land, then it should definitely be honored. I would not climb on any of my forebearers graves nor any body elses.
    As for the native people's history unfortunately we can't change history but only learn from the past.
    As for Snowden, I feel he betrayed the country and the media is hyping that betrayal by making him look like a saint. He revealed information that he was entrusted with by the United States government. Who knows what other information he may have and leak that to countries that are anti US.There are always ways to voice one's opinion and seek justice. Not go to a foriegn country and then set the information free. Who knows what other potential information he may have the could damage the security of the country. He doesn't deserve to be in the same category as Crazy Horse or Jefferson.

  4. It took me a while to decide whether I felt that Snowden is a hero or a traitor. In a way, he is both. He is a hero to many who entrusted the government to protect their freedoms under the constitution, yet a traitor by exposing our actions to foreign governments. So far all he has done is verified what we all knew, that our government since 9/11 has been spying on and collecting communications on all Americans. Which is despicable. I guess time will tell if he is a hero. Should his actions inspire law makers and citizens to demand change and oversight in what data can be collected, then he will be seen as a hero. Should the nation suffer an attack by terrorists because they avoided detection methods they are now aware of because of Snowden, then he is a traitor. For now, I see him as a scared American who felt fellow Americans needed to know what un-American things their gov't was up to. Not a traitor or a hero. I don't blame him for fleeing the US. We torture and detain indefinitely without trial. We are not what we used to be.


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