It deals with the the issue of Native population figures, genocide and biological warfare and the so called "virgin-soil epidemic". What is genocide and is there a definition is also discussed. Surely, it's a long essay, but worth reading!
I don't believe Churchill's rhetoric about the introduction of smallpox, if for no other reason than the traders greatly benefited from contact with these tribes and the traders were part of a larger economic network that benefitted a great deal more people/
However: "The torture of prisoners was indeed routine practice for most Indian tribes, and was deeply ingrained in Indian culture."
And: "Despite the colonists' own resort to torture in order to extract confessions, the cruelty of these practices strengthened the belief that the natives were savages who deserved no quarter."
Anybody with a basic knowledge of events in Europe at the time knows full well how widespread torture was against military enemies, prisoners, religious dissenters and, uh, 'witches.'
I agree with you regarding the introduction of smallpox at Fort Clark. In June of 1837, the steamboat St. Peter arrived at Fort Clark which was sixty miles north of present day Bismarck, North Dakota. Knowing there were men aboard the boat with smallpox, F. A. Chardon and others of the American Fur Company tried to keep the Mandans away from the boat, but to no avail. The two Mandan villages were devastated. About thirty Mandans out of a population of sixteen hundred survived the epidemic. The St. Peters continued on to Fort Union arriving there on June 24, 1837.
Assiniboine arrived at the post while the infection was in full force. Infected Assiniboine carried smallpox back to their lodges in Canada. From Fort Union smallpox spread to Fort McKenzie near the junction of the Marias and the Missouri rivers. Basically, the same story was repeated with the Blackfeet. There is no way to know how many Indians of the upper Missouri, the Plains, and Canada were infected with smallpox. Estimates on the number killed range from sixty thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand. The American Fur Company traders can certainly be criticized for the handling of the 1837 smallpox outbreak, but it is hard to believe there was any malicious intent on the part of the fur traders when the fur company’s economic survival depended on the Indian trade.
I disagree with that article by Guenter Lewy . There are many mistakes in that article.
What means genocide ?
The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines genocide as] 'the killing of members of a group.' Or causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group. The third part is deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part. And imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and forcibly transferring children to another group.
All this happened to the Native Americans
The list of American genocidal policies includes: Mass-execution, Biological warfare, Forced Removal from homelands, Incarceration, Indoctrination of non-indigenous values, forced surgical sterilization of native women, Prevention of religious practices, just to name a few.
When the British settlers landed - and I would imagine you could apply this to other colonists and the Americans - they were so badly informed/prepared/supplied that they looked to trade with the Indians. I think I'm right in saying ha a lot of the first settlers in Jamestown were actually soldiers as opposed to farmers. So what did they do when the supplies ran out? Traded with Indian groups, who, unlike a European economic model, grew very little that was surplus to their needs, so the whites responded with force. As for thr Puritans, you just have to look at the way they conducted their own business amongst themselves, never mind their interaction with the Indians, to know that their lionisation as doughty pioneers somewhat misses the mark. They had a narrow religious dogma, not unlike some of the more bizarre fundamentalist groups of today, and were highly superstitious of their surroundings and their new neighbours (not to mention their old ones). It was a disaster waiting to happening. They weren't a group founded on tolerance.
As I wrote above, I disagree with Guenter Lewy's article in many details . For an example, I quote:
„Finally, even if some episodes can be considered genocidal—that is, tending toward genocide—they certainly do not justify condemning an entire society. Guilt is personal, and for good reason the Genocide Convention provides that only"persons" can be charged with the crime, probably even ruling out legal proceedings against governments. No less significant is that a massacre like Sand Creek was undertaken by a local volunteer militia and was not the expression of official U.S. policy. No regular U.S. Army unit was ever implicated in a similar atrocity. In the majority of actions, concludes Robert Utley,"the Army shot noncombatants incidentally and accidentally, not purposefully." As for the larger society, even if some elements in the white population, mainly in the West, at times advocated extermination, no official of the U.S. government ever seriously proposed it. Genocide was never American policy, nor was it the result of policy“.
Excerpt of that qoute : No less significant is that a massacre like Sand Creek was undertaken by a local volunteer militia …. ( false )
The First Colorado Cavalry was an US contingent
Excerpt of that quote : „ ...no official of the U.S. government ever seriously proposed it. Genocide was never American policy, nor was it the result of policy“. ( false )
George Washington described Native Americans as : “wolves and beasts who deserve nothing from the whites but total ruin.”
Thomas Jefferson once wrote, that if the Indians did not cooperate, the policy of the United States would be “to pursue Indians to extermination, or to drive them to new seats beyond our reach.”
Andrew Jackson ( the greatest Indian killer of all US Presidents ) weird American troops „to root out ( Indians ) from their "dens" and kill Indian women and their "whelps" ,adding in his second annual message to Congress that while some people tended to grow "melancholy" over the Indians' being driven by white Americans to their "tomb," an understanding of "true philanthropy reconciles the mind to these vicissitudes as it does to the extinction of one generation to make room for another."
California Governor Peter H. Burnett, January 1851 : “A war of extermination will continue to be waged between the two races until the Indian race becomes extinct.”
Yreka Herald, 1853 :“We hope that the Government will render such aid as will enable the citizens of the north to carry on a war of extermination until the last redskin of these tribes has been killed. Extermination is no longer a question of time–the time has arrived, the work has commenced and let the first man who says treaty or peace be regarded as a traitor.”
Regarding the advent of the Puritans in New England, we should note, that about that time two smallpox epidemics hid the coast, in 1616 an epidemic wiped out 3/4 of the New England Indian population, and about 1633 another epidemic hit the coast. Therefore, the Puritans landed in an area where Indians' ability to resist was greatly weakened.... Tribes in New England among others included the Abenaki, Pawtucket, Massachuset, Narragansett. Pequot, Wampanoag .
It is my opinion that the extermination of the buffalo was a policy tantamount to genocide. They took away the livelihood of the plains tribes and following incarceration in the "reservations" the mortality rates brought the longevity and birth rates of the people way down. It was the deliberate slaughter of the buffalo that brought the tribes into submission. All the rest is just eye wash.