Comparing two historical perspective


The Massacre at Wounded Knee South Dakota, December 29, 1890

A Historical Context

The article is a historical report to a commission investigating the massacre at South Dakota written by four soldiers who participated in the war to disarm Indians. The four include Turning Hawks, Captain Sword, Spotted Horse and American Horse. These four combatants were sent by the federal government at the time to disarm the group that resisted policies of the authority. This paper details a report to the Commission of Indian Affairs in Washington on account of what took place during the massacre.

The article dates back to February 111, 1891, slightly a year after the unfortunate event. Going by the content of the report, the targeted group by the article was the government on the actual happenings over the event. The audience is the federal government through the Commission formed as it had to make a public statement on what took place during the war. The four included in the report, Turning Hawks, Captain Sword, Spotted Horse, and American Horse played a direct role in the war in South Dakota as they were among the several soldiers who gave their opinion on the event.

Understanding the Document

The keywords used in the text include Sitting Bull who was the chief of Indians and commanded a large following majorly composed of young men. Next is Massacre which is indiscriminate slaughter of individuals during times of war. Going by the information on the article, the four authors’ intention is to inform the Commission and the public of what took place. The intent of the report is to tell as is especially seen when Turning Hawk gives his version of the story related to the shooting of women and children. The high tone on the wordings of Turning Hawk proves that the intention of the article is to inform the federal government.

The point of the paper justification of the events leading to Massacre at Wounded Knee which resulted in the killing of members of a group that caused fear among residents of the Indian country mostly the white community. After the deployment of the police in the region to disarm the group, the author states that the following morning exchanges of fire begun between the team members and the officer. A young man shot a policeman dead, in response, the police fired indiscriminately at the crowd of people gathered around them. The general assumption made by the author in the article is that the members of the group headed by Sitting Bull confronted the police before the law enforcement agency responded with equal force.

The four contributors give a different opinion on what took place with all of them displaying varying levels of partiality. Some like Turning Hawk gave his side of the story on an equal ground regretting the killings of women and children while the others like Spotted Horse justified their action without any regret. The reasons behind giving different accounts of the war from soldiers who witnessed the fight may be out of honesty or otherwise. The officers who reported partially might have something to hide while those who gave a clear report on what transpired might have felt wrong for the indiscriminate killing.

As a source of Historical Information

After searching other documents on the same historical event, Massacre at Wounded Knee, it is safe to conclude that the report by the police officers indicates an actual event. Several books, article, documentaries, and reports concur with what is said by the soldiers. Some of the examples include Richardson Heather book titled “Wounded Knee: Party Politics and the Road to an American Massacre.” The authority made available the document once the commission concluded its findings on the slaughter. Anyone interested was allowed to access the information for private or public consumption.

The report mostly shares some accounts and assumptions with Dee Brown’s 1981 book titled “Bury my heart at Wounded Knee” with the following assumptions. First, it is true that the group headed by Chief Sitting Bull reigned terror in the Indian County. Second is that the cause for the indiscriminate shooting was due to violent resistance from some members of the panel who possessed knives and guns. Finally, the two documents hold the idea that killing of women and children was a wrong move by the authority. The paper by Dee Brown is legitimate as it applies the use of council records, some autobiographies and some firsthand description of the event that took place. The direction of the story anchors on the belief about an individual. In this case, different gave different accounts of events as a result of their views.

Two Statements by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce

A Historical Context

The author of the letter is Chief Joseph who headed native Indians succeeding his father as the leader of the Wallowa who occupy Wallowa Valley situated in the Northern Oregon. This piece of a letter addressed to the federal government was written in Washington when the chief visited the authority there to put across the grievance of his subjects in 1879. The Chief together with the followers have defeated in 1877 October and gave the speech two years later in 1879.

The purpose of the document was to air the needs of the Native Indians who faced challenges after being pushed into reservation camps where majority faced severe conditions. The report was addressed to the federal authority which the Chief thinks ignored their promises on delivering basic needs to the Indians. What is clear in the article is that the authorities did not fulfill their obligations to Indians which led Chief Joseph to respond through such a speech bitterly.

Chief Joseph had a firsthand experience of the events resulting in the removal of his community from their ancestral land. During the event, the chief was present and made an agreement with the federal government. The Chief also witnessed some members of his community die due to poor conditions the government exposed them onto when they moved northeast.

Understanding the Document

The keywords in the document include Gold Rush who was a period when of the discovery of gold leading miners to an onrush to seek fortunes. Second is the Nez Perce an area indigenously occupied by the Native Indians before being removed from the land. Chief Josephs tries to inform the government on the broken promises that they have failed to fulfill over time and also the public on the atrocities his subjects faced during the period. Some aspects of persuasion are also in the article given the wording of the speaker; this is seen when the author begs the authority to honor their initial agreements.

Chief Joseph tries in the article to points at the atrocities Native Indians face after leaving their land in response to the federal government violent attack. In support of the claim, the author cites that most of the known individuals died in the process of retreat and majority face poor conditions and hunger as a result of occupying less rich regions. An apparent assumption in the article is that the author thinks that the federal government tricked his community into a deal that they will not honor as he claims most of the official were his friends who talked without action. After the careful read, it is safe to assume that the author was not neutral as he does not point out the contents of the formal agreement between the authority and his community. Some of the demands brought forward by Chief Joseph like protection of his father’s grave is biased do not amount to the role of Federal Government which proves how biased his quest was. The author has every reason to be dishonest based on his cultural and traditional beliefs among the Native Indians.

Document as a Source of Historical Information

The circulation of the speech by Chief Joseph was wide during the period and with most quotes concentrating on the tribulations the natives faced during the time. An example of a document that shares primarily with this article is a 1936 book by Chester Anders titled ‘‘Chief Joseph: the biography of a great Indian.” The book has the following in common with the speech; the federal authority did not honor their agreement, the death of native Indians was unnecessary, and finally the conditions the Indians were exposed to were demeaning and unsafe for people to live in such areas.

The verification of the source is based on the fact that this source is a firsthand account of Chief Joseph’s quest for justice to the Native Indians of Nez Perce. People have different beliefs concerning the story put across by Chief Joseph about the atrocities the Native Indians faced. Someone would quickly understand the speech of Joseph the event took place mostly as a result of Gold Rush during the time. The individuals during the era did not believe much in what the government said or did as the subject suffered most of the time.

In summation, the two articles are incisive when investigated through the lens of interrogative questioning. Information that might be left out form the part of the discussion once one applies the pertinent questions listed.

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  1. “The Massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, On December 29, 1890 | Turning Hawk, Captain Sword, Spotted Horse, And American Horse (Sioux, 1891)”. 1891. Historyisaweapon.Org.
  2. “Two Statements by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce (1877 And 1879)”. 1877. Historyisaweapon.Org.
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