500 Nations (1995) s01e08 Episode Script

Attack on Culture

Hello I'm Kevin Costner welcome back to 500 Nations.
As Americans or people in any free society, we cherish our independence and know the cost to secure this hard-won commodity is often measured in human lives.
Think for a moment what would happen if your freedom was placed at risk.
Is it any wonder then that Indian nations fought to preserve theirs? Now imagine the unthinkable, being conquered.
You're forced onto barren land and have no choice but to live under the control of the conquering government.
In this last hour, we'll take you to the reservations of the 1800s to the stark, bitter truth about the loss of freedom.
But first we go to the epic struggles of two impassioned leaders whose resourcefulness and daring are synonymous with courage leaders whose words remain among the most moving in the history of the world: Chief Joseph and Geronimo.
The Nez Perce Chief Joseph "My father sent for me.
I saw he was dying.
I took his hand in mine.
He said, 'My son, never forget my dying words.
This country holds your father's body.
Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.
' I pressed my father's hand and told him I would protect his grave with my life.
I buried him in that beautiful valley of winding waters.
I loved that land more than all the rest of the world.
" Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.
Upon his father's death, known as Chief Joseph became head of a band of Nez Perce, whose home was the Wallowa Valley 250 miles east of present-day Portland, Oregon.
Famed for their selective breeding of horses, particularly the appaloosa the Nez Perce had always been friends to the Americans.
But with the opening of the Oregon Territory and the end of the Civil War white settlers, cattlemen and gold miners came to covet the rich Nez Perce land.
Ignoring their long friendship with the Indian nation the U.
Government supported the settlers' claims.
In 1877, General Oliver Howard entered the Wallowa Valley with orders from Washington to remove the Nez Perce by treaty or by force.
I did not want to come to this council but I came hoping that we could save blood.
The white man has no right to come here and take our country and we will defend this land as long as a drop of Indian blood warms the hearts of our men.
Joseph was faced with a terrible choice: To betray his father's dying wish or to commit his people to war.
Finally, he reluctantly agreed to relinquish his Wallowa Valley homeland.
Despite Joseph's concessions, tensions remained high.
As the Nez Perce were preparing to move onto the reservation a youth, whose father had been murdered by settlers gathered several friends and killed four settlers who were known to have committed atrocities against Nez Perce people.
"I know that my young men did a great wrong but I ask who was the first to blame? Their fathers and brothers had been killed.
Their mothers and wives had been disgraced.
They had been told by General Howard that all their horses and cattle were to fall into the hands of white men.
I would have given my own life lf I could have undone the killing of white men by my people.
" Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.
When seven more whites were killed General Howard sent a military force against the Indian nation.
Nez Perce leaders responded by dispatching a truce delegation under a white flag to meet Howard's advancing army.
Howard's men opened fire.
So began Chief Joseph's famous flight for freedom.
Over 700 men, women and children, with sick and elderly enduring a 1800-mile fighting retreat.
The struggle would capture the imagination of the American public.
Newspaper accounts made Chief Joseph a household name.
With a military genius born of desperation the five Nez Perce bands outwitted and outmaneuvered one military force after another as they made their way toward Sitting Bull's camp and political asylum in Canada.
Circling through the mountains, canyons, and plateau prairies of Idaho crossing the high ridges of the Bitterroot mountains into Montana and Wyoming colliding with frightened tourists in the newly created Yellowstone Park the Nez Perce fought off, in turn, four armies commanded by veteran Civil War officers.
After 105 days of constant pursuit the Nez Perce reached the Bear Paw Mountains in Montana one day from Sitting Bull's camp and freedom.
They knew they had put safe distance between themselves and the pursuing armies and stopped for a last rest before moving across the border.
What they did not know was that a new army had been dispatched by telegraph and was surrounding them as they camped.
The Nez Perce were taken completely by surprise.
The fighting was intense, and in the first moments Chief Joseph and 70 others were cut off from the rest of the camp.
With a prayer in my mouth I dashed unarmed through the line of soldiers.
My clothes were cut to pieces, my horse was wounded but I was not hurt.
As I reached the door of my lodge my wife handed me my rifle, saying: "Here's your gun.
" They ran up the hill when they were fighting.
"They're tearing the camp down there.
" She had this little baby and her girl by the hand and they said there was kind of a tree, like.
There was a big log there, so they crawled under that log to kind of hide from the soldiers that might come and probably shoot them down too.
And they just stayed there till everything was quiet.
The battle raged throughout the first day, with heavy casualties on both sides including the leaders of three of the five Nez Perce bands.
By the second day, the Nez Perce were dug in and fighting from trenches.
The army could not mount an attack without heavy losses.
Finally, on October 5th, General Nelson A.
Miles called Chief Joseph to peace talks under a flag of truce.
Chief Joseph went to General Miles and gave up his gun only one day from Sitting Bull's camp and Canadian asylum.
I am tired of fighting.
Our chiefs are all killed.
The old men are all dead.
The little children are freezing to death.
I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find.
Maybe I shall find them among the dead.
Hear me, my chiefs.
I am tired.
My heart is sick and sad.
From where the sun now stands I will fight no more, forever.
But the United States would not honor the terms of Chief Joseph's surrender.
The captured Nez Perce were shipped south to a malaria-infested reservation at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas before final relocation to Oklahoma Territory.
Chief Joseph had put down his gun but he had not given up the struggle for his homeland.
He would devote the rest of his life to honoring his promise to his father and fighting for his people.
He traveled to Washington, D.
C where he passionately argued his case before Congress.
"I have heard talk and talk, but nothing is done.
Good words do not last long unless they amount to something.
It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and all the broken promises.
In 1885, after eight long years and a massive campaign launched by Eastern philanthropists Chief Joseph's people won the right to return to the Northwest but not to their beloved Wallowa Valley.
The cattlemen who occupied it threatened to kill Chief Joseph if he returned.
Forever banished from his country, Joseph and 150 members of his band were taken under military escort to a reservation in Washington Territory.
There, in exile, Chief Joseph would die.
The doctor that was there to examine the Joseph his plea was that Joseph lost his life account of his broken heart.
"If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace.
Treat all men alike.
Give them all an even chance to live and grow.
You might as well expect the rivers to run backward as that any man who was born a free man should be contented when penned up and denied liberty to go where he pleases.
Let me be a free man, free to travel, free to stop free to work free to choose my own teachers free to follow the religion of my fathers free to think and talk and act for myself.
" Chief Joseph, Nez Perce.
The Apache Cochise and Geronimo "When I was young, I walked all over this country, east and west and I saw no other people than the Apaches.
After many summers, I walked again and I found another race of people had come to take it.
" Cochise, Chokonen.
When California became part of the United States in 1848 a new flow of military and civilian traffic headed West.
Many, bound for Southern California, took a route near the Mexican border that went through the lands of Apache nations the Chokonen, Bedonkohe, Nednhi, and Chi'enne Apache.
The Apache had a long and successful history of defending their lands against aggressive Spanish and Mexican invaders.
But as the newest arrivals, the Americans, crossed their lands most Apache held no grievances against them and their leaders made every effort to accommodate the travelers.
"At last, in my youth, came the white man.
Under the counsel of my father who had for a long time been the head of the Apaches they were received with friendship.
Soon their numbers increased, and many passed through the country.
We lived in peace.
" Cochise, Chokonen.
In February of 1861, a charismatic Chokonen leader, Cochise was summoned to a meeting with an inexperienced army lieutenant named George Bascom.
Bascom accused Cochise of kidnapping a child from a nearby ranch.
"Cochise denied that any of his band had done the kidnapping.
Bascom accused the chief of telling a lie.
Cochise was very proud of making his word good and no greater offense could have been offered him.
" Daklugie, Nednhi.
Bascom ordered Cochise arrested.
But the Apache leader escaped through heavy gunfire.
The men who accompanied Cochise were held by Bascom and executed soon after.
"At last, your soldiers did me a great wrong and I and my people went to war with them.
" Cochise, Chokonen.
Cochise cut off passage through Apache Pass.
The United States responded by sending General James Carleton to establish Fort Bowie in Apache Pass.
There is to be no council held with the Indians.
The men are to be slain whenever and wherever they can be found.
The women and children may be taken as prisoners.
I trust that these demonstrations will give those Indians a wholesome lesson.
But the long and intense efforts of the United States Army would have little success.
Based at his stronghold high in the rocky Dragoon Mountains Cochise fought a successful guerrilla war against the U.
Cavalry for the next nine years.
Finally, in 1872 General Oliver Howard traveled to Cochise's stronghold to sue for peace.
Cochise agreed to lay down his arms for a promise that his people would be allowed to live on their own land in Apache Pass.
Howard's promise would hold true through the remaining two years of Cochise's life.
Then, in 1876, the United States dissolved the Apache Pass reservation and ordered the people to the barren San Carlos Reservation.
The creator did not make San Carlos.
It is older than he.
He just left it as a sample of the way they did jobs before he came along.
Take stones and ashes and thorns and with some scorpions and rattlesnakes thrown in dump the outfit on stones, heat the stones red-hot set the United States Army after the Apache and you have San Carlos.
Of those ordered to relocate, two-thirds refused preferring to follow a new generation of Apache leaders leaders committed to freedom at all costs.
Among them were Juh, Nana, Loco, Victorio and Geronimo.
"Juh told him that he could offer them nothing but hardship and death.
As he saw it, they must choose between death from heat, starvation and degradation at San Carlos and a wild, free life in Mexico.
Short, perhaps, but free.
Let them remember that if they took this step they would be hunted like wild animals by the troops of both the United States and Mexico.
All of us knew that we were doomed but some preferred death to slavery and imprisonment.
" Daklugie, Nednhi.
Geronimo's strength of will had been forged much earlier when his wife, children and mother were killed in a Mexican raid on his village.
He had been away from home and came back and found his entire family scattered all over in the yard, dead.
The Americans and the Mexicans rode horses with shoes and so he knew that they were the ones that had come and destroyed his family.
And he made a vow then that he would kill every Mexican and every American that he saw.
Now he would lead the Apache through their greatest test.
The final Apache resistance was a monumental expression of human pride and love of freedom.
"We are vanishing from the earth yet I cannot think we are useless or God would not have created us.
For each tribe of men God created, he also made a home.
In the land created for any particular tribe he placed whatever would be best for the welfare of that tribe.
Thus it was in the beginning, the Apaches and their homes each created for the other by God himself.
When they are taken from these homes they sicken and die.
How long will it be until it is said: 'There are no Apaches'?" Geronimo, Bedonkohe.
For a decade, the Apache surmounted overwhelming odds.
By 1886, Geronimo's tiny band was being hunted across the mountains by 8000 troops from Mexico and the United States.
He was losing all his warriors and his family.
He could never beat them because there was always somebody there and there were so many.
And he was losing his own people.
And he said, "If I keep fighting, there will never be any more of us.
" "At that time, Geronimo's band consisted of 17 men.
He had also Lozen, known as 'the woman warrior.
' Geronimo was handicapped by the presence, too of women and children who must be defended and fed.
Nobody ever captured Geronimo.
I know.
I was with him.
Anyway, who can capture the wind?" Daklugie, Nednhi.
On September 3, 1886 Geronimo turned himself in to General Miles who had already made his reputation as the man who finally caught Chief Joseph.
As a condition of surrender, Miles promised Geronimo that his band would be taken into custody for only a short while before being released to a reservation in the Southwest.
But Miles lied.
Geronimo's people and even Apache peacefully settled at the San Carlos Reservation were shipped to Indian prisons in Florida.
I was born as a prisoner of war.
They promised us in the beginning that we would be held prisoners for two years which went into 28 years.
And I'm almost sure we're the only tribe that ever served that many years in prison.
Geronimo would not live to be a free man.
After 23 years as a prisoner of war he died in 1909.
What is the matter that you don't speak to me? Why don't you look at me, smile at me? I am a man.
I have the same feet, legs and hands and the sun looks down on me a complete man.
I want you to look and smile at me.
Attack on Cultures By the late 1800s, reservations had become virtual concentration camps.
Most were on barren lands, useless for farming and devoid of game.
Indian people were forced to live off of U.
Food rations promised in treaties in return for their lands.
Providing subsidies and food for over 200,000 Indian people was big business.
The distribution system quickly became a corrupt network of government agents and their partners, known as the Indian Ring.
"If they bring any goods for the Indians, the agents live off of them.
And pay has been taken by the agents and they have put money in their pockets.
The steamboat came in the night and took away boxes of goods so that the Indians would not know it.
" Struck By The Ree, Yankton.
Robbing nations of their meager government subsidies the Indian Ring left the people in abject poverty.
And they hoped, it seems to me, to take away the spirit of the people so that we'd become more docile, so to speak.
We would then only depend upon them for the way to be.
We would have to go to whoever brought out the rations.
"I noticed a small group of Indians who sat under a tree.
All were dirty, ragged and lean.
Soon an Indian woman and a young girl hurried into the group laid down packs and opened them.
I could see spread out there some dingy meat evidently waste from a butcher's shop and some discarded scraps of stale bread and other stray odds and ends of food.
I felt a wave of fury toward our government's whole Indian policy.
" Thomas Tibbles, reporter.
Many Eastern reformers were determined to break the Indian Ring but they believed that the only lasting solution was change not only for the bureaucrats, but for the Indian people themselves.
Indian ways were judged as backward and wrong that for their own good, their cultures had to be erased.
Indian people were to be remade in their reformers' image.
"The Indians' only safe future can be found in merging their interests with ours and becoming part of the people of the United States.
Their safe course is to quit being tribal Indians to go out and live among us as individual men to adopt our language, our industries and become a part of the power.
" Richard Pratt, director, Carlisle Indian School.
The policy of stripping Indian people of their cultures became official with the 1887 passage of the General Allotment Act.
The act broke apart communal land holdings assigning plots to individuals in an effort to force them to live like white farmers.
"As long as Indians live in villages they will retain many of their old and injurious habits: Heathen ceremonies and dances, constant visiting.
I trust that before another year is ended they will generally be located upon individual land or farms.
" Government commissioner.
Supported by an alliance of Eastern reformers and Western land speculators allotment attacked both the sovereignty of Indian nations and the fundamental concept of land belonging to all the people.
"This is only another trick of the whites to take our land away from us and they have played these tricks before.
" Hollow Horn Bear, oglala.
The allotment system was ripe for massive fraud.
Corrupt agents declared small children, dogs and horses as allottees then seized their lands and sold them.
Indian orphans were shuffled off to white families who adopted them to obtain title to their allotments.
After allotment plots were handed out to Indian people the U.
Government was free to sell the remaining reservation lands to whites.
During the allotment period Indian nations would lose two-thirds of the little land that remained in their hands.
Two years after the passage of the Allotment Act Oklahoma Indian Territory was officially open to settlers.
What followed were the famous land rushes.
The territories of the Creek, Cherokee and other nations were overrun lands which had been promised them as permanent, unassailable refuges in exchange for their lands east of the Mississippi.
But of all the government policies designed to end Indian cultures the cruelest was yet to come.
Indian people would be robbed of even their children.
Across the country, Indian children, some as young as 4 years old were taken from their parents, often by force and sent to boarding schools.
At the boarding schools, children were stripped of all outward appearances linking them to their Indian past.
"Our belongings were taken from us even the little medicine bags our mothers had given us to protect us from harm.
Everything was placed in a heap and set afire.
Next was the long hair the pride of all the Indians.
The boys, one by one, would break down and cry when they saw their braids thrown on the floor.
" Lone Wolf, Blackfeet.
Children were forbidden to speak of their traditions and severely punished if they used their native languages.
Fed distorted images of evil Indians many came to doubt their own identity.
I remember, growing up that I never really felt good about myself.
We were taught to be ashamed of who we were and who we are.
And it hurts when you're young, and you're trying to understand.
"We all wore white man's clothes and ate white man's food and went to white man's churches and spoke white man's talk.
And so after a while, we also begin to say, 'lndians were bad.
' We laughed at our own people and their blankets and cooking pots and sacred societies and dances.
" Sun Elk, Taos.
Many boarding schools were set up in converted military posts where, for decades, soldiers had been trained to fight Indian people.
Students slept on cots in cement barracks and were drilled daily in strict military regimen.
It was like an army barrack.
They marched us like they do when you first go into the army.
We marched to school.
We marched to eat.
They took us to church, we marched to church.
We lived kind of an army-style life and we went to school that way.
If we thought the days were bad, the nights were much worse.
This was a time when real loneliness set in.
Many boys run away but most of them were caught and brought back by the police.
We were told never to talk Indian, and if we were caught we got a strapping with a leather belt.
I remember one evening, when we were all lined up in a room and one of the boys said something Indian to another boy.
The man in charge caught him by the shirt and threw him across the room.
Later, we found out his collarbone was broken.
The priest would take a leather harness strap and he would beat my husband.
And every time that strap would come down on him how he would repeat to himself, "I'll never forget my language.
" He was thinking that, "I will never forget my language.
" "The boy's father, an old warrior, came to the school.
He told the instructor that among his people children were never punished by striking them that that was no way to teach children.
Kind words and good examples were much better.
" Lone Wolf, Blackfeet.
Each day stretched into another endless day each night for tears to fall.
"Tomorrow," my sister said.
Tomorrow never came.
And so the days passed by and the changes slowly came to settle within me.
Gone were the vivid pictures of my parents, sisters and brothers.
Only a blurred vision of what used to be.
Desperately, I tried to cling to the faded past which was slowly being erased from my mind.
For traditional cultures, the effect was devastating.
Boarding-school graduates returned to the schools and encouraged new students fresh from the reservations to give up their traditions.
"Don't look back.
All that is passed away.
This country through here is all improved.
You saw when you were coming, cities, railroads, houses, manufactories.
Boys, this was once all our country but our fathers had not their eyes open as we have.
Now the only way to hold our land is to get educated ourselves.
" Henry Jones, Creek.
But the home cultures were not altogether powerless against boarding-school invasion.
Many held firmly to their traditions and returning graduates who did not readapt found they had no place in their old world.
"It was a warm summer evening when I got off the train at Taos Station.
The first Indian I met, I ask him to run out to the pueblo and tell my family I was home.
The Indian couldn't speak English, and I had forgotten all my Pueblo language.
Next morning, the governor of the pueblo and two war chiefs came into my father's house.
They did not talk to me.
They did not even look at me.
The chief said to my father: 'Your son, who calls himself Rafael, has lived with the white men.
He has been far away.
He has not learned the things that Indian boys should learn.
He has no hair.
He cannot even speak our language.
He is not one of us.
"' Sun Elk, Taos.
These things that made life for us the most important thing these were the things they took from us.
And today, so many of our Indian children have forgotten their language even here on our reservation because they took that language away from us.
Our language that God gave us.
When we started this series, we wanted to make sense of how a continent of some 500 Indian nations became what it is today.
What we found was an ironic path newcomers, looking for freedom and tolerance but showing little of those virtues to the people they encountered.
Many Indian nations have survived.
Today there are over 10 million Indian people in North America with 2 million in the United States alone.
They no longer face conquistadors or invading settlers but they continue to deal with the complex struggle to maintain their cultures and quality of life.
It's difficult to explain.
Like, the native people are like a root.
You know? Where everything grows there.
It's their community, it's their land.
That's where they live.
That's where they're born.
That's where they have their grandparents buried.
Their ancestors were there.
Their language is there.
Everything is there.
And then you ask them to change their way of life so you carry them away.
I say it's just like when you try to plant a tree let's say a spruce tree, in a desert land.
Even though you put water in it, it's gonna dry.
It's gonna die.
Our people, our families had been telling us all these stories all these many years, and at last we finally set foot and walked in the areas and slept in the country where our grandmothers and grandfathers started from.
And I can just imagine how my grandmothers and my grandfathers would have felt if they had come back like I did.
And I saw those places for them.
I was able to return.
I think a lot of times the general public doesn't understand where the Native Americans Their feelings of what's happened to them in the past, and where they're coming from.
And why they're sometimes withdrawn.
Why they haven't really jumped into the mainstream life.
I think what present-day Americans have to learn is that our heroes are not their heroes, and their heroes are not our heroes.
And when I went to school, just as you and everyone else in this land we've all been exposed to the same value system the same perspective on history.
The lesson that is there, the very important lesson, today, for all people is to realize the value of an alternative perspective and that is why we are here.
That is why the creator allowed some of us to remain in spite of all the attempts to destroy us.
Every tribe has had their Great Swamp in that process.
Every tribe has had their Sand Creek.
Every tribe has had their Wounded Knee.
The list is endless, and we've all shared in that same experience.
I went to a meeting at Wounded Knee in November, when there was snow all over all over the ground.
And we were on our way to the burial site.
I could not help but think back.
And there was a feeling there.
There was a feeling that those that were there in a grave were trying to tell me something.
And it brought tears to my eyes.
And I stood there, and there was a spirit that came over and I could feel that spirit.
It was the spirit of God.
There is a mightier power than kings and presidents who guides the minds of the people.
A higher power.
The mandates are very simple, you know that we must live in the land that the creator give to us and look after his gifts so that our great-great-grandchildren will be able to enjoy the same things that we enjoy today.
If you look at natural laws in a very simplist form is that you must drink water to survive.
So if you pollute the water so that you can't drink it then you will perish.
And there's no appeal to this if you violate the natural laws.
Someday I fear that the land that we have here now will be taken because some of the treaties state that as long as the water flows and the grasses grow, that we will be here.
But our rivers are drying up and when the water's gone what will happen then? What's gonna happen to my children? Our cultures have been assaulted, our lands have been stolen.
But we're still here as a people.
And we're fighting the same battles that have been fought for the last 300 years.
They're unresolved.
It's up to us to resolve them in a fair and honorable manner.
Destiny is not a matter of fate.
It's a matter of choice.
And we have some choices to be made here.
We have the choice of continuing to survive on this planet as Indian people.
That's our goal, and we're gonna accomplish that.
We're gonna be here for many, many years to come.
Tall oak of the Narragansett nation said it was his destiny perhaps that of all native people, to be the conscience of America to see that the tragedy of the past would never be repeated.
Hopefully, now that we've had a glimpse of the other side of the American story we too can be a part of that collective conscience.
Thank you for joining us.
Feel free to translate this to your language and place your name here as translator.