04/18/06 - Native Americans

In today's excerpt - Larry McMurtry, who, among his other accomplishments, won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay for Brokeback Mountain and the 1986 Pulitzer Prize for Lonesome Dove, writes about dealing with Native Americans.  In the late 1800s, Colonel George Shoop reflected the view of most in the military, as well as the noted historian and journalist J.P. Dunn, when after successfully massacring over 100 Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians at Sand Creek:

"Colonel George Shoophe confidently announced that Sand Creek had taken care of the Indian problem on the Great Plains —his comment was the prairie equivalent of Neville Chamberlains' famous 'peace in our time' speech, after Hitler had outpointed him at Munich.  Shoop was every bit as wrong as Chamberlain.  Sand Creek, far from persuading the Indians that they should behave, immediately set the prairies ablaze.  It sparked the outrage among the Indian people that led inevitably to ... Little Bighorn.

"... General George Crook's career as an Indian fighter and administrator contradicts perhaps more clearly than any other J.P. Dunn's assertion that the Indians only respected merciless behavior.  Crook was no softie, of course, but he did try to be fair, and the Indians recognized as much and respected him for it. ... Unlike most military administrators, Crook took the time to try to understand the differences between the nine branches of the Apache people. ... It was Crook who recognized the folly of cramming disparate and incompatible bands onto the same reservation.  He made real progress. Even Geronimo, a particularly hard sell, developed some respect for General George Crook."


Larry McMurtry


Oh, What a Slaughter


Simon & Schuster


Copyright 2005 by Larry McMurtry


105, 122-123
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