Britain’s Futile Attempt to Keep American Colonists From Taking Tribal Land – Atlas Obscura

Picture this: In the 1760s, a team of colonial surveyors meets a group of leaders representing major Native American tribes in what will one day become the southeastern region of the United States of America. Together, they head out into the woods. Their task is to mark a negotiated border, by…

Source: Britain’s Futile Attempt to Keep American Colonists From Taking Tribal Land – Atlas Obscura

Did Native Americans Bend These Trees to Mark Trails? | Atlas Obscura

As a kid, Dennis Downes was the type who played in the woods. The forests where he frolicked were near Lake Michigan, around where Wisconsin and Illinois meet. The spot is striking—in these woods, there are large, old trees that have contorted into incredible shapes.

No more than four or five feet off the ground, these trees bend sharply into right angles, parallel the earth for a measure, and turn sharply up again, towards the sky. These trees are now abandoned infrastructure. Like like other structural relics, they were designed to be long-lasting–so much so that some of these trees are still indicating the way. But the people they served have been forced to leave, and the marker trees themselves are in danger of disappearing.

Many people who come across trees like these in the forest share the same instinctive response: this can’t be natural. And as a kid, Downes was taught that they were not. The trees looked like that, he was told, because native tribes had…

Source: Did Native Americans Bend These Trees to Mark Trails? | Atlas Obscura

Slavery in America was much worse than you probably imagined

This August, when Hillary Clinton met with Black Lives Matter protesters, they told her that ongoing violence and prejudice against blacks was part of a long historic continuum where, for example, today’s prison system descended from the old Southern plantations. Slavery, Clinton replied, was the “original sin… that America has not recovered from.

”But how much do modern Americans really know about slavery in colonial America? In the genocide of Native Americans? In the War of Independence or the drafting of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights? Or afterward for decades until the Civil War? Chances are, not very much. Not that slaves, for example, were money in the antebellum South—currency and credit—which led to the enforced, systematic break-up of black families in generation after generation. There was no national currency, and little silver or gold, but there was paper tied to slaves bought on credit whose offspring were seen as a dividend that grew over time.

That’s just one of the riveting and revolting details from a new book, The American Slave Coast: A History of The Slave Breeding Industry, by Ned and Constance Sublette. They trace other telling details that are not found in…

Source: Slavery in America was much worse than you probably imagined

Lozen, the Warrior Woman


AS a boy, I remember looking longingly through the window of Turner’s shop on Aughrim Street and wishing I had more in my pocket than the 50p that nestled there. Turner’s was our special shop, the place we went to for treats. It sold comics like Warlord and Victor, as well as Commando story books. I loved those little books.

The other thing about Turner’s that I liked were the cowboys and indians that danced and pranced on their horses in its window. The cowboys had their six-shooters and the indians wielded tomahawks and hallooed blood-curdling war cries… at least they did in my imagination.

Victorio Victorio

These days the indians are called Native Americans. Whatever their name, my childhood fascination with them evolved over the years to encompass reading quite a few books about them and, a few years ago, writing my own book (yet to be published) about the…

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The Two-Sentence View of History

An Indigenous History of North America

I’ve been reading a lot of accounts recently that argue indigenous people asserted much more control over many areas of the continent into the 19th century than modern people usually assume (check out The Native Ground by Kathleen DuVal or An Infinity of Nations by Michael Witgen, not to mention Hamalainen’s Comanche Empire) and I got to thinking about the response my post about the teaching of Native history received.

One of the most common responses was along the lines of “Well, Native Americans didn’t contribute much to history anyway, they didn’t do much important, it’s sad but they were basically just wiped away by Europeans.” There is an incredible amount of hindsight bias in that kind of thinking. When you are living in a society in a time where Native people have been very carefully thrust out of view, it is easy to see the dominance of European-descendants as an inevitable…

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The History Girls: CHOCTAW CODE TALKERS by Tanya Landman

At the end of the ‘Indian Wars’ in the 19th century many Native American children were taken away from their parents and sent to school to become ‘civilized.’  The policy – ‘kill the Indian to save the child’ – meant cutting their hair, putting them in white people’s clothes, forbidding them to speak their own languages.

When the First World War broke out in Europe American Indians were not citizens of the country they lived in (in fact, they were only granted US citizenship in 1924).  Their languages were considered obsolete.  But then, in 1917,  a group of 19 young Choctaw men arrived in Europe as part of the US Expeditionary Force.

Their story is told in the following memorandum:

Headquarters 142nd Infantry, A.E.F.

January 23, 1919, A.P.O. No. 796

From: C.O. 142nd Infantry

To: The Commanding General 36th Division (Attention Capt. Spence)

Subject: Transmitting messages in Choctaw

In compliance with memorandum, Headquarters 36th Division, January 21, 1919,to C.O. 142nd Infantry, the following account…

via The History Girls: CHOCTAW CODE TALKERS by Tanya Landman.