Saturday, August 22, 2009

Man's inhumanity toward Man.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmond Burke.

Much has been said on the blogs about the Indian Island Massacre, and how could anybody have let it happen? How could anybody be so brutal to kill the Indian People with hatchets, and why was nothing done about it?

I consider myself to be a good man, but at what point should I began to interfere with those about me. We've all watched parents “abuse” their children. Don't say you haven't! The only place that most people disagree is where discipline stops and abuse starts. I guess I am committed to say something about the abuse if the “discipline” leaves a mark. Because, if you can't prove what you say, or there are no other witnesses, chances are you are doing more harm than good to the abused child's life. Not only do they have too suffer the abuse, they have to suffer everybody knowing about it.

As a Medical First Responder. I am required by law to make an official note of any unusual circumstances that I notice when on a medical call where a child is “mysteriously injured”. Fortunately I've never had to do that.

I have called the cops to report an incident next door to me, when a man held a gun on “his woman”. I knew that he knew how to use the gun, because he had quite frequently fired it into the bank of the road next to his house when the two of them got into an argument. After consulting with my neighbors about what was going on, they claimed that it was just a car backfiring. Finally I called the cops and reported the gunfire at all hours of the morning. They came down and told the neighbor that I was complaining about his shooting at night, and told him to try to refrain. I felt a little exposed, and maybe a little cowardly for not saying something to the man myself, but how many times have we been warned not to take the law into our own hands. Needless to say, I kept a close watch on him for awhile.

I witnessed him holding the gun on her, because she wouldn't let him in the house, she came outside and locked the door behind her. He held the gun leveled between her eyes while she berated his manhood, his courage, the fact that he was “to drunk to get it up”. Then she talked about the fact that he was a wife beater. After he corrected her that they were not married, she said “Okay then, you're a woman beater”. With some of the insults that she hurled his way, it was amazing that he didn't shoot her. When he left, he left as a passenger in another persons car. While leaving, he took his gun, and pointed it out the window and fired eleven 7mm rounds into a six inch pattern in the chimney cap of the house, about 80 feet away, in less than 7 seconds, just to show her that he could have killed her. Never doubt a drunk mans ability to shoot accurately.
This shooting happened in the middle of the day, and I had no shortages of witnesses. The cops came and hauled all of them away. They finally believed me, and I didn't feel so hung out to dry, so to speak. It was an uncomfortable feeling to wonder how bitter he might be over me ratting him out.

I told this story to help point out the difference that we enjoy today, over what we might have done under similar circumstance back in the 1860's. People of today are horrified that nothing was done about the Indian killings of the 1860's. Some of the early cattle barons had their neighboring white ranchers killed just for their land. It wasn't just Indians being killed, it was anybody that caused a problem. Claim jumpers in the gold fields killed many white people and blamed it on the Indians. There wasn't any CSI Humboldt to ferret out the real culprits. Most people tried to stay low-key and not draw any attention to themselves. If a few neighbors got killed or a few Indians, the average person probably thought “thank God it wasn't me”. Most people tried to remain as inconspicuous as possible. And, if an Indian, or a newcomer rancher, or a gold miner was killed, you just tried to stay out of it, and mind your own business.
Many people did realize that things were out of hand in on the north coast and petitioned the Governor or the Federal Union to supply us with law and order. The law that we got was in the form of the Pony Soldiers. Most of the county sheriffs and judges were intimidated by the thuggery that abounded on the north coast, and they were fairly useless as far as keeping law and order.

Depending on the soldiers that we got, we had varying degrees of law and order. Some of the soldiers found it to be great sport to hunt the Indians. Very little was done to settle rancher problems. They were pretty much allowed to work out their own problems. Some of the soldiers tried to take care of the Indian people but had very little success. Just as soon as they got them where they could protect them, there would be a change of the guard and the new pony soldier was not that keen on taking care of the Indians. Whatever the case, most of the early settlers just wanted to be left alone, by everybody. They were just as happy if nobody paid any attention to them. They were happy to stay out of all of the problems around them. They were “good people”. They didn't want to have anything to do with all of the killing and the violence. Does that sound familiar? If they got too public about the killings “Somebody” would pay them a visit. It was best to tend to your own plow.

Why did the rest of the United States stand by and do nothing while the people of the west killed each other over land, gold, or property. Why did they allow the killing of the Indian People? I guess they just thought that the west was a wild and untamed place and they needed to work out their own problems.

The amount of Indian people killed on the north coast pales in comparison to the people that were killed in Germany. The united States stood by while Jews were being exterminated by the thousands. Many people said that it was not our problem, and none of our business. How could anybody allow the horrible things that happened to the Jews to go on without doing something? Does anybody want me to describe what happened to the Jewish People? I will spare you the details. But, I would bet that many of them, before they died, would have welcomed a hatchet to the head. Many horrible things were done in the name of “Science”. Some of the things that I have read could have only been done by a human. Animals don't have the imagination to be so brutal. When should we have stopped the extermination of the Jews in Germany? And, why did we take so long?

I would bet that there are people out there that haven't even heard of Nanjing, where Japan invaded China. The brutality was beyond imagination. Most of the women were allowed to be raped and killed as a reward to the troupes. The women especially suffered horrific deaths. Deaths so disgusting that I can not even bring myself to describe them, but many of you out there know what I'm talking about. I don't recommend that you look for photo's of the deaths at Nanjing.

Saddam Husein killed his own people, he gassed the Kurds by the thousands, they died by gas that burned their skin off before they died. How horrible is that? Why did good people allow that to happen? Was it really none of our business?

On September 11, 2001 19 Al-Qaeda terrorists flew commercial aircraft into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. I still have visions of the firefighters with hoses thrown over their shoulders rushing in to save people only to have the buildings collapse on them. It's not like we haven't been told that Al-Qaeda hates us, and wants to destroy “The Great Satan”. (us) The Al-Qaeda has perpetrated many attacks on us, and we continued to let it happen up until the attack on the Twin Towers.

There are people that say we should get out of the middle east and leave them alone. Sometimes it's the same people that say; “how could anybody allow the attack on the Indians on Indian Island”, and they were outraged that the world did nothing. The massacre happened because “good men did nothing.” Much like today.

Once again, I think that we should be grateful that we live in this small bubble of place and time where peace is thought of as Ideal.


Anonymous said...

Surely your finger slipped, Ernie. You did mean Edmund Burke, or I miss my guess.

Stephen said...

Ernie, sounds to me like you're still making excuses for white people's genocide of local Native Americans. And what's this with your promoting the Bush Administration con job and false flag incident of 9-11? Your "good people" doing nothing argument falls flat when we saw how our gov't used American emotionally based anger to go to war against the wrong people.

My father was one of our "patriotic" Americans of WW II. As a kid I used to look at his medals and the photos he still had of these cities that showed nothing but bomb craters and ruins. He was a navigator and bombadier on a B-24 that included missions over Dresden. My dad was a hero to me yet when I grew up I learned he was also a mass murderer along with other flying missions over Europe.

War is hell, Ernie, and there's no need to promote retaliation when a little brain power could avoid the situation in the first place, e.g. paying attention to the reasons why Hitler could rise to power in Germany and doing something to help the German economy that was devastated by economic collusion against Germany by the winners of WW I.

I guess what I'm saying is that what we see as righteous action against tyranny can be little more than vigilantism that wiped out so many of our local tribes people.

Ernie Branscomb said...

"You did mean Edmund Burke, or I miss my guess."
U're right, I used an "E" in the place of a "U".
Thanks, Urnie.

My points were less about politics than you would like to see in them, and more about "Man's inhumanity to man", and how little that we can really do to change it. The fact is that the situations are the same today as they were in our yesteryear. Good people, such as yourself, are helpless in the tide of human destruction. Diplomacy cannot work against a tyrant. So, do we just allow a tyrant to have their own way? At what point should we interfere in “Other peoples business.

I believe a lot of very clear issues are clouded with politics, greed, and power.

One thing that I want to make myself very clear about. I do not condone what happened to the Indian people. It was a sad page in the history of the north coast. I have the unique advantage of having known a lot of people that had fairly direct knowledge about those times. Most of the “Good People” just did nothing, and most were very intimidated by the thugs that really ran things around here. You really have to open your mind and think about what YOU might have done back then. You would soon realize that you were helpless, or you would have become a dead hero. Some made that choice, most didn't survive. We all make the mistake of judging history in “Today's” context. Things were very different back then.

Percentage wise, there are as many “Good People” alive today. Most of the “Good” is all talk. What would you have done to stop The Indian Island Massacre? Talk is cheap when there are is no real law.

Carson Park Ranger said...

"I felt ... a little cowardly for not saying something to the man myself."

I'm glad that you didn't. Situations that involve erratic behavior and firearms are best left to the professionals. It takes guts to be willing to be a first responder, like you, in a rural area. And that's the kind of courage we want to preserve.

Stephen said...

Ernie, why do you think I've devoted so much time and energy on my blog for years now promoting the human rights of Palestinians? No, I'm not a policeman and not about to go out confronting violent yahoos but I am a dedicated social change activist and do what I can to promote the lessening of violence in the areas I have committed my self to: Native America and Palestine.

There is a rerun happening in our lifetimes of the very same type of inhumanity that wiped out so many Native Americans and their culture--that is the European Jewish takeover of Palestine. The same exact mentality is at work in Israel that in the 1800's here saw white people as the human beings and dark skinned natives as something less. That's the way Arab Palestinians have been treated and it really hasn't stopped. If anything, it's gotten worse, e.g. the Gaza incursion.

When I look at land in Humboldt County what I now see is the land Native Americans were forced off of so that white people could benefit. Every acre is stolen land in Humboldt County, stolen at gunpoint from the indigenous peoples. We have a long way to go to make up for the crimes against humanity that our forefathers committed. But I'm glad you're trying to see a better road towards creating a new and whole community.

Robin Shelley said...

Just out of curiosity, Stephen... how does your father react when you refer to him as a "mass murderer"?

Ben said...

Ernie... With great trepidation I'll dive into this one.
i would like to suggest that it was not a general urge for "survival" on the part of the settlers. Nor a basic love of mayhem on the part of humanity in general which brought about the Genocide of the 1850-70s. It was a planned removal of the indigenous race by any force necessary. The basic force was the Army which attacked village after village in a period of conquest of little more than three years. In our area, the Indians not killed in these attacks were taken to Eureka and sent to Smith River in ships. Some were taken to the reservation at Ft. Bragg. Most died of various diseases at the reservation. Some were able to return by foot. We think of the militias as wreaking great havoc and they were certainly cruel and heartless but most of the work of depopulating this area was done by the Army in a very short period of time and in a deliberate and planned fashion. An interesting question is why were the Indians of the Klamath-Trinity allowed to survive? One factor is their remarkable resilience and tenacity but another is that their land was not seen as particularly valuable. Timber could still be found much closer to markets and there was little grazing land for livestock. Our area had vast areas of grassland and presumably a great future in ranching. Profits were very nearly immediate with a good market for wool and beef. The Army literally swept this country attacking every village they could find and then marching the survivors to the Holding Pen at Ft. Humboldt to await their trip north. The result is a place without a rancheria and in which the only surviving Natives lived with whites. In my opinion all this was carefully planned in Sacramento at the behest of large landowners and politicians. No such tactic was used on the Klamath and the tactics used at Round Valley, though brutal, were different. We often forget that we are talking about thousands of people who were killed or removed. The Native census estimates have been deliberately lowered to suggest far fewer inhabitants than were here. A real estimate would have raised the question of what happened to all those people. Anthropologists were not encouraged to report large pre white population estimates. The population of the Phillipsville area alone was probably at least 1,000 and most were killed or removed in a single Army action reported by Sam Suder and Albert Smith. My point is that there is more to this historically than we have been told and that a deliberate military action was the event that carried out a policy specific to our area. This action had to have been ordered by a higher authority than local whites.

Robin Shelley said...

Ben, you say "the result is a place without a rancheria...". I am confused as to which "place" you are referring. Could you clarify for me, please? Thanks.
I appreciate (& tend to agree, I think) with what you're saying about the genocide being a "planned removal" more than any kind of basic survival instinct on the part of the new settlers.

Ben said...

Hi Robin... If you look at a map of rancherias and reservations, you will see none between Laytonville (Cahto) and Table Bluff (Weott). The Bear River Rancheria began with Hydesville which is closer but the point is that there is no Indian land between Fortuna and Laytonville and the Laytonville Rancheria was created much later than others in our area as a refuge for Indians who were homeless. Several Indian Allotments were created in the Briceland and Phillipsville area but they were sold by the families to whom they were granted. I live near Philipsville which was once a large population center for a band closely related to the Indians at Fort Seward. Pliny Goddard's interviews with Southern Humboldt Indians such as Albert Smith, Briceland Charlie and Van Duzen Pete contain many references to the Army campaign I'm talking about. I've been transcribing the interviews and learning a lot.

spyrock said...

i think they called it manifest destiny. or eminent domain. they still do it today whenever they want to take someones land.
the fact is that all of this was authorized by the state of california and the federal government or it would never have happened. not only that, private citizens were reimbursed for their expenses while perpetrating genocide for the states benefit while we were fighting the civil war.
the indians had no concept of the ownership of land. mother earth was sacred and belonged to all. most of the europeans that came here were previously serfs or slaves to a king or queen somewhere back where they came from. so for many, this was the first land that their families had ever owned going back generations.
although i have a great respect for indians and california indians in particulair, the yuki used to do things like behead their enemies and let their kids play soccer with the head.
as the world has become smaller and connected, the isoated tribe or country has become extinct. we are now inter racial, multi cultural and basically just a citizen of the planent earth.
we share an international consiousness whether we like it or not and those that resist it are going to disapper much the same way the california indian did. so excuse me for not feeling guilty about my ancestors doing something yesterday that is happening to me today. at the same time, i have much sympathy for what native americans have endured. but things are changing. just the other day, a man from ventura county lost all his money at an indian casino and in his rage was kicked out of the casino and sped off drunk down the road trying to pass three cars at once and hit head on 5 employees of the casino on their way to work. 3 of the women died each leaving 3 children without a parent. all of this guilt tripping and madness serves no purpose than to create sadness in the world. so get over it.

Ernie Branscomb said...

I just want everybody to know that Ben is one of the people that I respect the most on north coast history.

Two: I am up to about twenty-five pages of a reply that says basically what Spyrock said.

Three: No outside researcher can step into the middle of another persons history and "know" all about it. Many things come to mind. For instance, I know that Spyrocks ancesters were killed by Indians in Laytonville. Two sets of my ancestors were killed by Indians while crossing the plains, and I have had ancestors raped by Indians. Still, I regard the Indian people the same as I would hope that they reguard me, With respect, and the understanding that we can't change what our ancestors did.
I agree with Spyrock... Get over it!

Oldmanriver said...

Thank you Ben!

I know for a fact that Indians are benefiting from our attempt to reveal history that was swept under the rug. That is what matters.
I don't see this so much a a guilt tripping exercise as a turn the compost project. But for some, even that is too smelly.

Robin Shelley said...

Thank you, Ben.

Robin Shelley said...

I don't know if any of my ancestors were killed by Indians or vice versa but I do know that I have one branch on the family tree that probably had more to fear from the U.S. government & white people in general than they did from Indians - & they & the Indians gave each other some grief!
These folks were LDS converts who emigrated to this country from England & anyone who knows even a little Mormon history knows what I'm talking about.

Oldmanriver said...

You are so right Robin.
The history of the Mormons out West and their views of, and relationships with, the Indians and passing settlers is a wild chapter, and a great story to be told.

Lynette M said...

So... I hate to jump into this, but "get over it" seems a simplification of a very complicated issue. Should the African Americans just "get over" slavery? Should the Jews just "get over" the holocaust and the Vietnam War vets the conflict there?

Whether we like it or not, we pass on history like brown hair or green eyes. I don't know that simply rehashing brutality and tragedy does any good, but the challenges plaguing the Native American population are not imagined, and not an accident.
In 2006, the latest year studied, Native American men were dying at the highest rate of all people… Their life expectancy was 71, the lowest age of all men, and six years lower than that of white men.
[Source: ]

Whether we like it or not, the affects of our history here still ripple through the community. I don’t know that any ethnic group can “get over” genocide any more than an abused person can just “get over “ the trauma. We must also admit that the reservation system forced a dependence on the government—and now we criticize the results of this campaign. Unless we want to continue to treat Native Americans as different than the general population, this is our issue—
Rehashing the past may not address the issues, but pretending the past has no affect on the present is simply naïve.

Anna McCarthy said...

Ooh, last heard Native American men's life expectancy was 46 years! That was quite a few years ago, but from what I know of the reality of native life, seems not too far off. I hope it is all the way up to 71. but you're right: the bully always says get over it. Very convenient.

Ben said...

All... The remarkable feature of our local Indian Wars is that they were so recent. My umpty ump great uncle Jacob Upp spent his spare time fighting Indians down on the Ohio River in Indiana. That was many generations ago and I have his account of being kidnapped into slavery by the Kickapoo. Since he was adopted into the tribe before his escape can I claim to be part Kickapoo? I don't think so. It was all long time ago.
Living here, I actually knew the daughter in law of Steven Fleming the militia leader in these parts back in the 1860-70s. She was 96 when she passed and that was the 1980s. Amazing.
To illustrate what a small world it was in the 1860s, the Mendocino census of (I forget, 1870?) has two Upps and a Sprinkle all names from my Indiana family. The Asbill's pal Basley Manly Cox was from Indiana. My grandmother's maiden name was Cox. Thanks to OMR for posting that census! Well,I'm just blabbing on. Ernie, I sure appreciate your support and really enjoy your blob and Spyrock, I surely agree with you.

spyrock said...

just an fyi, i just spent a couple of days with chester kahn, a navajo elder who is passed 71. his grandmother was the only survivor of his family and she taught him the old indian way. chester is a very beautiful humble man who is not bitter about what happen to his people basically because that is not how they see life. of course, this was not true when he was a young man. but at some point, he got over it. so if he can. why can't you. like chester, i love my family, my people. but i realize that we are all one people. and so does chester.
i actually think that everyone should know the truth about what really happened in the old days. but good luck trying to get them to do it. its going to take some effort on your part.

suzy blah blah said...

we share an international consiousness whether we like it or not and those that resist it are going to disapper much the same way the california indian did.

i will resist it 'til i disappear.

Ernie Branscomb said...

" it or not and those that resist it are going to disapper much the same way the california indian did.

I have coffee about once a week with a man who was once the Chief of the local Wailaki. He only shows up about once a week. Is that kinda' like disappearing 6/7ths of the time? Is that how they disappear?

suzy blah blah said...

Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses it will save it.

I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed; one will be taken, the other left.

And there will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken, the other left.

There will be two men in the field; one will be taken, the other left behind.