Sunday, June 23, 2013

The crux of the case against John Evans as an Exterminator


In the correspondence with Gary Roberts here, I included a summary of the three leading points against John Evans as an Exterminator which I have discovered in analyzing, line by line, his own statements. The phrase "party of Exterminators" comes from Major Edward Wynkoop, explaining his original commonality with Evans and Chivington and repudiating it.

When I began this research, I did not expect such an exact and harsh finding. Evans was, after all, absent from the Colorado territory when the Massacre occurred. I had thought that he was an evil character - one who incited to some extent and then defended the Massacre, but not, as it turns out, an instigator of Extermination (after all, he temporarily settled as Indian Agent the Tagebuche Utes as shepherds under Chief Ouray). He would not, I imagined, be as bad as Chivington.

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Given his steady collaboration with and failure to repudiate Chivington or the Massacre (he did try to distance himself from the act for an Eastern audience but treated it as just another aspect - it mostly actually was - of the settlers' war against "hostile indians"; read: ethnic cleansing), I, nonetheless, thought Evans was, deeply, a part of the evil or genocide.

Academics often foolishly praise Evans' founding of Universities - but it is a little like saying, after all, Hitler was a vegetarian...

And he loved dogs...

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Even as so far unearthed, the case is, however, worse than that. Three facts define Evans' special role in provoking the massacre at Sand Creek and then claiming it his - the "higher civilization's," the US government's or at least, since the Federal Government denounced and fired him, the territorial Governor's - right to do it.

First, he ordered "the destruction and killing" of "all hostile Indians" without distinction of warriors and civilians, of man, woman or child, even toddlers. See his First and Second Proclamations here. That is a crime of war, and one largely ignored in the Federal indictment of Sand Creek. The Proclamations were published by the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War but not commented on; the Congressional representatives were appalled at the murders of toddlers and mutilations of women among friendly Indians, as they recognized the victims at Sand Creek to be.

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Of course, this kind of slaughter of women and children and the elderly marks much of American history (see Dee Brown, Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee on all the tribes, particularly the Poncas who were a) agricultural as the US government supposedly wished, and b) did not fight back against US encroachment), and was not, just be itself, exceptional in the eyes of - also ethnic cleansing, but less irrational and bloodthirsty - Congressional representatives.

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But second, Evans and Chivington met with Black Kettle and other indigenous leaders who had risked their lives to come in to Camp Weld in Denver with Major Wynkoop. They thus obeyed Evans's Proclamation calling for friendly Indians to come to named forts. Subsequently, they did everything Evans, Wynkoop and Major Scott Anthony requested and were given the impression they had succeeded. At the least, they did not expect, peacefully encamped under an American flag and a flag of truce, to be sneakily (and cowardly) butchered...

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At the Camp Weld meeting, Governor Evans had refused to make peace with them, saying that it was up to General Samuel Curtis. That sent the message to Chivington, who was also a participant in that meeting - see here - that these peaceful indigenous people were "fair game" to be murdered.

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Worse yet, Chivington, with Evans present, told Black Kettle and Bull Bear to go to Major Edward Wynkoop at Fort Lyon as if that would make peace. It seemed - except that Chivington and Evans were monsters - that obeying his words meant at least protection from him as a war leader of the US military.

The indigenous people moved to Fort Lyon and turned in their weapons.

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Once again, they had, as the Joint Committee on the Conduct of the Civil War reported - see here - every reason to think they were at peace. The statement of the Joint Committee, wondering how "beings in human form" could have carried out a massacre of friendly and determinedly peaceful indians, camped under an American flag and a flag of truce, is worth reading in depth. See here.

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As the Commmittee said, if these were not friendly indigenous people, there were no such people. This terrible indictment - "it is not clear who Evans would have considered friendly" - echoes like a sudden gunshot from the report and even appears - Evans tries to mock it - in his letter of response to his firing by Secretary of State Seward to the people of Colorado. See here.

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The Committee also judged Evans the slipperiest "prevaricator" it had examined in four years of hearings:

"His [Evans] testimony before your committee was characterized by such prevarication and shuffling as has been shown by no witness they have examined during the four years they have been engaged in their investigations; and for the evident purpose of avoiding the admission that he was fully aware that the Indians massacred so brutally at Sand creek, were then, and had been, actuated by the most friendly feelings towards the whites, and had done all in their power to restrain those less friendly disposed."

See here and here.

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To the Joint Committee, Captain S.M. Robbins, one of the witnesses who supported the atrocity, spoke in "the Chivington interest." He suggested that Chivington, hoping, with Evans, to get elected as Republican Congressman and Senator when Colorado became a state. did it to appeal for votes. Here are his words:

"I should like to say a friendly word...in the Chivington interest...The point I wish to make is, that perhaps Colonel Chivington may have been forced into this by the sentiment of the people.

Question: Would the sentiment of the people lead a man to attack Indians who were known to be friendly, and who were known to be trying to avert hostilities?

Answer: I should say it would. They wanted some Indians killed; whether friendly or not they did not stop to inquire." (See Joint Congressional Committee Report here; Alexander Saxton, The Rise and Fall of the White Republic, p. 281)

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That is Chivington's "defense." If a Thoreau, a Gandhi or a Socrates calls for being a "majority of one" against a mob (the latter is a defective- or pseudo-democracy, one opposing a common good and acting in a reprehensible, particular, tyrannical interest), John Chivington was the Satan (I am speaking of him as a long celebrated Methodist, though the Methodist Church has now recognized and repudiated its role in the ethnic cleansing of indigenous people; last year, that Church denounced the "doctrine of discovery" of the Catholic Churches, the John Marshall Supreme Court and the murders of indigenous people across America - see here), leading the mob which murdered toddlers, cut babies out of wombs, and mutilated women for "trophies"...See here.

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The Joint Committee's Report, speaking in horror and revulsion, can hardly imagine that "beings in human form" could do this...

That there was something out of the ordinary here was clear. The Federal government did not see what it was routinely doing to indigenous people as something decent human beings would and should have been repelled by...It was hard to stand out in the way Sand Creek did.

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The third pillar of the case against Evans is from an interview with H.H. Bradford, for whom the University of California at Berkeley Library is named, in 1888. Bradford did an interesting kind of oral history. This interview, as Carl Smith, on the Northwestern Committee to investigate the relationship between the massacre, the railways and the development of the University, discovered, bizarrely cuts off abruptly before the discussion of Sand Creek. It does so both in the Northwestern copy and in the Bradford library copy of the University of California.

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But in doing research for The Rise and Fall of the White Republic (h\t Tracy Mott), Alexander Saxton studied the whole version. Saxton was a great historian, a radical and novelist, who went back to UCLA to get a Ph.D., and focused on the racism of the leadership of the early American labor movement, notably the AFL and Samuel Gompers, toward Asians. He was one of the initiators of Asian-American studies. What I have done in this series of documents on Evans is to analyze Evans's own words to make the case above about who he was. Until we can get hold of the original document, I will, however, use Saxton's citations on this.

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Evans had been raised a Quaker and Quakers, as with opposing bondage, opposed settler barbarities toward indigenous people (See my Black Patriots and Loyalists, ch. 2; Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors: How Indian War Transformed Early America, p. xx-xxii). But Evans had, partly for political reasons, become a Methodist. He was an industrial entrepreneur, profiting from the railways, and a would-be political one. He was appointed Indian Agent as well as Governor of the Colorado territory by Abraham Lincoln. He needed a justification for wiping out even friendly indians, driving them from the Colorado territory.

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Evans saw white civilization in a Lockean vein as more productive and indigenous people as being merely under the control of a higher civilization, allowed but temporarily to hunt on but with no right to the land they lived on. He reworded the "doctrine of discovery" with this Lockean point. See Locke's Second Treatise in which Locke maintains falsely that the poorest he in England lives better "than a King in America." Actually, day laborers lived in misery in England, exploited and often tyrannized by their employers; indigenous people lived freely and communally as part of tribes in the United States. The racism in Locke's view is thick. See the decisive correction of Locke - that men in the state of nature are free, "red, white and black," by the English pamphleteer against bondage J. Philmore, Two Dialogues Concerning the Man-trade, 1760 discussed in my Black Patriots and Loyalists, ch. 2.

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Evans thus thought all treaties signed with indigenous people were unnecessary, overridden by a "higher right of civilization." He deemed them harmful (from the settler point of view) as well. He even attributed the "indian wars," the fact that indigenous people resisted conquest, to the U.S. government offering any legitimacy to their right to the land through treaties. The bizarrely patriarchal and arrogant stupidity of Evans - a murderous one - needs to be taken in here. As Saxton reports on the Bradford interview:

"It can hardly come as a surprise, then, to find Evans in later years mulling over arguments already well used in the days of Jefferson and Adams. Rightful possession of land must rest on effective agricultural practice in supporting a population. Thus justified, Evans could ridicule 'the proposition that a country a thousand miles long and five hundred miles wide, one of the most fertile in the world, should belong to a few bands of roving Indians, nomadic tribes in fee as their property' (Evans Interview, P-L 329, folder 2-6, Bradford Library). Given the self-evident absurdity of such a proposition, was it not perverse to reinforce it by negotiating treaties of purchase with Indians? National sovereignty should have no truck with purchase. Burned clean by the struggle against secession, the nation, for Evans, had become the only source of right."

Evans insists that the US government simply steal the land, without any treaties or pretense of recognition of the people who were there.

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Saxton continues:

"Knowing that his Quaker heritage must cry out against such a doctrine, he found himself obligated to settle accounts with that heritage. William Penn, he told an interviewer in 1888, had been mistaken to teach that Indians owned the land they lived on:

'...nearly all the Indian wars have resulted from the fact that the Indians took in that doctrine which was acknowledged by the U.S. government...and that we had to buy it of them by treaty or purchase, instead of teaching them...that they had a right to hunt on the land, but that right must be subject to the higher occupation of the land, for a larger population and for civilization. Their wildness should have been impressed upon them from the beginning...'" (Interview, ibid, pp. 19-20; Saxton, pp. 284-85)

That this is a monologue in Evans's head is revealed by the mind-boggling racism of this statement. What people, living on land, would be convinced by aggressors coming and proclaiming: "we are civilized and you are WILD...we are more productive than you, therefore give us your land and retire into reservations..."

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Evans was an extremist, as Major Edward Wynkoop names it, in the party of Exterminators. That name summarizes why all the dubbing of towns - Evanston - and mountains and boulevards and professorships for John Evans is a mistake.

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Evans kept trying to tell himself a story that would sanction his rapacity.

There is no such story...

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But Evans saying against the Government, "we can just take the land - it is ours - without even a treaty with the people who live there" is the enemy of morality, law, civilization and decency...It underlines the horror of what he did in licensing all women and children to be killed, no "hostile" ones allowed to come in with friendly ones, by the forts, and to designate Black Kettle and the others "hostile" in spite of all their actions to the contrary. To put in a Christian way (Evans, Chivington and Byers, publisher and editor of the Rocky Mountain News were Methodist founders of the Colorado seminary, which became the University of Denver and the Iliff School of Theology), one could not plead, with a John Evans, a John Chivington, a Ralph Byers for mercy. Even toddlers...

Evans's retrospective Lockeanism is an attempt, as a Methodist, to banish the reality that he had, effectively, sent Chivington to do the atrocities at Sand Creek.

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Even more remarkably, the US government which broke every treaty with indigenous people - destroyed by violence every attempt to make peace by indigenous people who were in constant retreat, emblemized by the five tribes in Georgia and Mississippi driven out by the Indian Removal Act of 1830 - see Walter Johnson, River of Dark Dreams - appears more decent than Evans.

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In the case of Sand Creek, the government knew the right thing to do. Even the ethnic cleansing Treaty of Little Arkansas in 1865, expelling indigenous people out of their homelands and to the South, promised reparations for the Massacre.

These have, however, never been paid...

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John Evans stood for genocide without a facsimile of law, and against all such treaties. He was, once again, an extremist even among "the exterminators."

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Evans said he was for self-defense against Indian attacks. From an aggressor and conqueror, this is an apology. He did not hunt particular killers (often acting in self-defense) for particular incidents. Evans was, instead, for ethnic cleansing-scale ravaging - "punishment" - of native Americans of which Sand Creek is the emblem.

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Evans was good on the evil of slavery. As a Quaker and then a Methodist, he sometimes sought to "do good." But he also got into the railways. And as an Indian Agent, his desire to clear indigenous people out for "civilization" - to become an "Exterminator" grew.

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Many Americans, particularly ordinary ones, when not in a paroxysm of racism (see Peter Silver, Our Savage Neighbors) did not go along with this genuine savagery. In the middle British colonies before the American Revolution, Silver (pp. xvi, xvii-xviii, xxi), traces the standard campaigns to build, through displays of mutilated bodies, a revulsion at indigenous people, based on fear, and an attempt to exterminate them.

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Similarly, near Denver in 1864, the bodies of the Hungate family were buried and dug up twice - something very strange - before being taken to the town to be displayed. They were put out by the leading Methodists John Evans, John Chivington and Ralph Byers, to mobilize the fear and passion of the settlers, once again not just to capture particular killers, but to murder all - including peaceful - indigenous people. That was the root of Captain Robbins' testimony "in the Chivington interest."

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Displaying bodies was thus part of a longstanding way - a kind of artificial drama - of building sentiment for Extermination.

Jeff Broome has shown that Hungate himself had shot a native american for stealing horses. See here. Hungate and his family were then attacked. But David Halaas told the DU committee looking into Sand Creek, basing himself on the detective work of Jeff Campbell who is now looking into this with intensity, that there are further mysteries to be unravelled here. Campbell located the place of the massacre, as Ari Kelman records at the conclusion of The Misplaced Massacre - 2012. For instance, a large number of moccasins were ostensibly found at the Hungate residence, but there were not a large number of indigenous people running off horses, let alone leaving moccasins - this seems planted "evidence"....

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In 1888, Evans' words expressed madness, though they could also be used to "justify" the many Sand Creeks all across the country, something routine though not quite with the Chivington mutilation of babies, foetuses and women.

Evans' memory of Sand Creek had not faded. The particular horrors of Sand Creek follow from and are "licensed" by Evans' view that the US government could do with "lesser human beings" what it wished. For an account of what was actually done in the West, see Dee Brown, Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee and my "Seeing anew" on the Civil War of genocide in the West, 1861-90 here.



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It is hard to take in the roots of Denver and even where it is agreed that a Massacre occurred, there is a tendency to take the edge off and not to include or listen to the representatives of indigenous people. Currently, the Colorado History Museum is meeting with previously excluded indigenous leaders to reassess its exhibit on Sand Creek called a "Collision" rather than a Massacre. See here.

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"Joint statement on progress of Tribal Consultation regarding Sand Creek Massacre Exhibit at History Colorado

DENVER — Wednesday, June 19, 2013 — A Tribal consultation convened with the assistance of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs at History Colorado, June 18-19, 2013, where official Tribal representatives from the Northern Cheyenne of Montana, the Northern Arapaho of Wyoming and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, along with National Park Service Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site and History Colorado officials, reviewed the History Colorado Center exhibit about the Sand Creek Massacre.

“The purpose of the Tribal consultation was to begin addressing concerns from the Tribes regarding the exhibit, as well as develop a plan for future relations between History Colorado and the Tribes. All of the participants agreed that this was an encouraging and productive meeting,” said Denver attorney Troy Eid, who mediated the consultation. Eid donated his time as a public service.

Participants agreed to meet again later this summer for further consultations regarding the exhibit and that the exhibit will remain closed during these ongoing Tribal consultations. The parties are also developing a joint Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to guide their current and future relations. The purpose of the MOU will be to educate the public about the Cheyenne and Arapaho people and the Sand Creek Massacre and to prevent such tragedies from ever happening again.

Media may direct questions to Troy Eid at 303-572-6521 (office) or 303-918-6298 (cell), or email eidt@gtlaw.com."

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