Posts Tagged ‘Native American history’

SIRS Discoverer Spotlight of the Month: National Native American Heritage Month

Each November, the United States celebrates National American Indian Heritage Month by honoring Native Americans and their diverse cultures, contributions and achievements. Many achievements and influences can be found in art, music, literature, agriculture, spirituality, and medicine. National American Indian Heritage Month has been a significant national celebration since 1990. This yearly commemoration honors Native Americans’ accomplishments and their role in the development of American culture and society, while recognizing the evolution of the Native American experience and emphasizing the importance of preserving Native traditions and heritage. Visit the November SIRS Discoverer Spotlight and join us in commemorating the cultures and recognizing the hardships of Native Americans. Young researchers can read about Crazy Horse as a child; discover the history of the Sioux tribe; explore the wonders of totem poles, and much more.

Edward S. Curtis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Other topics to research can include:

Who Was Crazy Horse?

For a man like the great Oglala Lakota warrior Tashunkeh Witko, the man most people know as Crazy Horse, it seemed like an undignified way to die. On September 5th, 1877, four months after he and other Oglala leaders came to Fort Robinson at the Red Cloud Agency to surrender and negotiate a peaceful ending to the fighting, and just a year after the battle at the Little Bighorn, Crazy Horse was dead. While being arrested he was stabbed in the back by a soldier with a bayonet just outside a jail cell. How could this have happened to a man who rode fearlessly through a hail of arrows and gunfire in order to give his war parties time to regather themselves, a man who selflessly rescued fellow warriors from certain death on the battlefield? The U.S. Army called the stabbing an accident. Relatives, friends, and fellow tribe members of Crazy Horse thought differently.

Crazy Horse was born sometime around 1842 near Rapid Creek in the Black Hills of South Dakota to parents from two different Sioux tribes, his mother, Rattling Blanket Woman, a Miniconjou, and his father, Crazy Horse, an Oglala holy man. After Crazy Horse was born his mother began calling him Curly for his naturally light-colored, curly hair. When he was about twelve years old Curly witnessed the shooting of their great Lakota chief Conquering Bear by U.S. Army soldiers led Lieutenant John Grattan. The ensuing skirmish eventually left 29 U.S. Army soldiers dead, including Grattan, and later became known as the Grattan Massacre and the beginning of the Sioux Wars. As Curly grew into a young man, seeing that he was destined for great things, his father relinquished his own name to his son after the young warrior had revealed the vision he had of bullets and arrows vanishing in thin air before they struck him. His father took the name Worm, and with his new name, Curly had become a third generation Crazy Horse after his father and grandfather.

As tales of Crazy Horse’s heroics during battle grew, he quickly became a leader among his people who they willingly followed and trusted. But he was different from most Oglalas. He was shy, modest, never drew attention to himself, and many times seemed alone in his thoughts. Some considered him aloof. Unlike most Oglala warriors, informed by his vision, he almost never took scalps. He wore little or no face paint, never wore a war bonnet, and was content with wearing only one head feather. He did not dance and no one ever saw him sing, both activities that Lakotans loved. He never married his true love, Black Buffalo Woman. Her husband, No Water, shot Crazy Horse in the face when he found the two together in a tipi during a buffalo hunt. The shot glanced off the side of his face and left a permanent scar.

These are just some of the things we know about Crazy Horse, but much about his life remains vague at best. Only those who were close to him knew much of anything. Two of the most important resources that can give a researcher unique insights into the life of Crazy Horse come from two books, Mari Sandoz’s “Crazy Horse: The Strange Man of the Oglalas,” and John Neihardt’sBlack Elk Speaks.”

Growing up on the panhandle of present day Nebraska in the early 1900s, Mari Sandoz lived among the Oglala who often encamped near the Sandoz homestead. She befriended relatives and friends of Crazy Horse like He Dog, Short Bull, and Black Elk. Using her knowledge of the Lakota language, she artfully wove her tale of Crazy Horse by integrating the Lakota’s superb transcendental imagery into plain English. John Neihardt, an American poet and ethnographer, interviewed Black Elk, a Lakota medicine man and cousin of Crazy Horse. In “Black Elk Speaks,” through the translation of Black Elk’s son Ben Black Elk, Neihardt narrated Black Elk’s own stories and his visions as a medicine man, but also related many stories about Crazy Horse the warrior and leader of the Oglala Lakota.

eLibrary can also give you a step up in your research of the life of Crazy Horse. There are resources on the Plains Indians tribes, such as the Sioux and Cheyenne, and the Great Sioux Wars from the 1850s to the 1890s (including the Battle of the Little Bighorn and Battle of the Rosebud). Below are those resources and more related to Crazy Horse and his people.

Research Topics:
* Battle of the Little Bighorn
* Battle of the Rosebud
* Crazy Horse
* Sioux Indians
* Sioux Wars

Magazine Articles:
* How Little Bighorn Was Won
* Lakotas Feared Fighters of the Plains
* Tragedy at Red Cloud Agency: The Surrender, Confinement, and Death of Crazy Horse
* ‘We Belong to the North’: The Flights of the Northern Indians From the White River Agencies, 1877-1878
* What Did Crazy Horse Look Like?

Book Articles:
* Crazy Horse (Tasunke Witko)
* Sioux
* Plains War

Remembering the Trail of Tears

By Wesley Fryer from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA (Cherokee Heritage Museum) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The heritage of Native Americans is brimming with spirituality, art, innovation, and communion with nature.

Many tribes populated North America, living in harmony with the land and its offerings. We honor the beauty and spirit of native peoples, and their many contributions, each November as we celebrate Native American Heritage Month.

But Native American history during the past few centuries is rife with violence, sadness, and desolation. It is important that we learn about the many difficult events of the past while honoring what was lost—and taken—from the people who lived on this land for centuries before Europeans arrived.

Let’s look at one devastating piece of history: The Trail of Tears.

In 1829, lots of gold was found in Georgia mines, bringing the gold rush to that area and immensely increasing its value to land speculators. One year later, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. It was a title quite befitting, as it laid out the government’s intentions of removing Native Americans from their homelands. The act authorized the president, who was Andrew Jackson at that time, to negotiate with tribes and force them west.

Unfortunately for the Cherokee, the land in Georgia that was home to the gold rush was also home to their tribe. They lived in communities of huts and log-cabin homes that they built on the land. They grew corn, squash, and other crops. They traded goods and services and had created a formal system of writing.

In other words, the Cherokee were rooted to this land and did not want to leave.

Eight years after the signing of the Indian Removal Act, soldiers were sent to forcibly remove the Cherokee from the land. It was not a benevolent outcome: homes were destroyed, possessions were stolen, and tribe members were arrested. Some died in makeshift “jails” and military outposts. The devastating end to the attack was the forced move of the Cherokee from their land to Oklahoma.

The Cherokee were sent in separate groups to walk 900 miles west to their new home. The journey was not an easy one. They were confronted with difficult weather, rivers to cross, and mountains to traverse. Little food was available in the inhospitable conditions. Sickness and starvation turned to death and despair on this trail to Oklahoma…on this Trail of Tears.

Of the nearly 21,000 Cherokee who left Georgia and walked the Trail of Tears, only 16,000 survived. They banded together in their new land and created the Cherokee Nation. About 1,000 Cherokee escaped the forced removal and formed the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in the Georgia and North Carolina mountains.

Here at ProQuest, we honor Native Americans and their cultures and histories each November during Native American Heritage Month. Articles, websites, and photographs profile Native Americans and their tribes, or provide insight into contemporary and historical Native American issues and events, in this month’s SKS and Discoverer Spotlights of the Month.

SKS Spotlight of the Month: National American Indian Heritage Month

Before Europeans arrived on North American soil, Native Americans had lived and prospered on the rich, diverse land for thousands of years. By the time colonization programs began in the late 16th century, disease brought by explorers and colonists had devastated Native American tribes along the eastern coast. Many died.

Native Americans at a Powwow <br /> by U.S.D.A./Larry Rana, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

Native Americans at a Powwow
by U.S.D.A./Larry Rana, via ProQuest SIRS Government Reporter [Public Domain]

As history shows us, European colonization and settlement continued across the United States as wars ravaged tribes and destroyed relationships between the natives and newcomers. It is a history fraught with violence and emotion.

In the mid 19th-century–a mere 164 years ago–the federal government took action to promote peace between Native American tribes and European settlers. The Indian Appropriations Act created Indian reservations in the region of Oklahoma, an effort that instigated anger, erupting in more battles and wars.

The Indian New Deal of 1934 provided additional rights to native tribes and allowed and encouraged these tribes to govern themselves. Some compensation programs paid reparations for lost lands and broken tribes, but not all of these programs were successful. Throughout the 20th century, Native American activist groups struggled for rights and causes significant to their people.

In the 21st century, Native Americans are revered for their beautiful cultures and remembered for their harmonious connection with the land and nature. But issues facing native peoples and tribes remain unsettled. Many people feel strongly that the deep wounds afflicted on these populations are not healed. Economic, emotional, and social difficulties continue to plague Native American tribes living on Indian reservations. Hot-button issues persist in mainstream American culture, such as the controversy surrounding the Redskins and their team name and mascot.

This November, be sure to celebrate National American Indian Heritage Month. Engage your students in the incredibly important history of Native Americans. Introduce them to significant native people of the past, such as Red Cloud, Squanto, Crazy Horse, and Sacajawea. Teach them about the ways and cultures of tribes, such as Cherokee, Cree, and Iroquois. Help foster in your students a love and appreciation for Native American art and customs. Join SKS and its November SKS Spotlight of the Month in emphasizing the significance of the great heritage and complicated history of Native Americans.

November: Native American Heritage Month

Native American Dancing at the National Powwow

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush declared November National American Indian Heritage Month, now more commonly known as Native American Heritage Month.  The endeavor to gain national recognition for the contributions and traditions of the first Americans had finally come to fruition some 75 years after initially being proposed in 1915.

Most of us are familiar with Native American figures like Crazy Horse, Geronimo and Sitting Bull.  We have also learned about major events in Native American history such as the Trail of Tears, the Battle of the Little Bighorn and Wounded Knee.  But have you heard about the trial of Standing Bear?  What about Sarah WinnemuccaGhost Dance?  The Carlisle Indian School?  The American Indian Movement?  eLibrary can help you learn about these Native American topics and many more with its array of Native American resources.  Find general history and culture in the Encyclopedia of North American Indians.  Read newspapers and magazines such as Indian Country Today and The Circle: News from an American Indian Perspective to gain insight on contemporary topics like Native American sports team names and maintaining Native American heritage.  eLibrary also offers books on major historical events including Trail of Tears and Wounded Knee.  Finally, check out Research Topics on individual tribes from the lesser known Nez Perce to the more well-known Cherokee.

Take time this month to peruse Native American offerings in eLibrary.  Learn the who, what, where and why of Native American history.  Meet Native Americans you do not know.  Discover a heritage that may be new to you.