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"Native Americans in the Civil War" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2020 10:20 p.m. PST

"In the midst of a war fought on land that once was theirs, over a nation that denied them citizenship, Native Americans found themselves faced with a dubious decision: Whose side should they be fighting for?

In 1861 it seemed that America was coming apart. Secession, Confederate nationhood, the firing on Fort Sumter, and a mesmeric rush to combat engulfed the nation. The realities of the crisis differed for everyone as individuals examined family, community, state, and national allegiances. One hundred and fifty years after the cataclysm of the American Civil War, we still tend to think of it in terms of black-and-white: the majority white soldiers and civilians, the minority African-American slaves. But what of the indigenous peoples of America?

For many American Indians, the impending conflict created no less of a crisis than it did for the dominant society. But their experience would be primarily defined by their location in the country. Geography was everything. As the tide of non-Indian settlement swept from East to West, indigenous people became minorities within settled regions. They remained Native, but adapted various political, economic, and cultural aspects of their lives to better coexist with their new neighbors. By the time the Civil War started, Indians in settled regions experienced the conflict as members of larger communities whose movements they did not control. Indians living on the edge of incorporated states were better able to retain tribal autonomy, yet they were still strongly influenced by national and state political discourse. Those groups well beyond the white frontier in "Indian Country," however, generally lived with little concern for U.S. politics…"
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Quaama03 Sep 2020 5:29 a.m. PST

Although, in contemporary terms, the CSA is considered a racist nation they, not the USA, (as the article confirms) were prepared to promote Native Americans to officer rank (even to General as in the case of Stand Watie who I'm always interested to hear about).
Also, it is important to note (as also mentioned in the article). that "Each of the five southeastern Indian nations decided independently which side to support, and each chose the Confederacy".

skipper John Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 7:41 a.m. PST

Didn't Grant have a General that was native Indian in command?

Pan Marek03 Sep 2020 8:35 a.m. PST

That definitely proves that the system of black slavery, which the CSA fought to preserve, was not racist.

Now, remember to tell the audience that the Cherokee held black slaves too.

ChrisBrantley03 Sep 2020 8:56 a.m. PST

Grant's adjutant and personal secretary was Lt. Col. Ely Parker, a Seneca Indian from NY. Was an engineer by training, and didn't command troops in the field. Brevetted to Brig. Gen. in April 1865 during the Appomattox campaign.
Credited with drafting the surrender terms presented by Grant to Lee at Appomattox. Great story is that at the surrender, Lee introduced himself to Parker and (according to Parker) said "I am glad to see one real American here." Served after the war as Grant's Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 10:42 a.m. PST

When you go to war, to anyone who is the enemy of your enemy is your friend. The Confederacy was not "pro-Indian," they were "Anti-Union," and any troops already west of the Mississippi who could threaten Kansas and Missouri was a Good Thing.

The Nazis raised an East Indian Unit and at least one Muslim. Did that mean they didn't still think them untermensch?

And the Cherokee's fielded pro Union troops--for them it was a Civil War within a Civil War.

That article smacks of being apologist where there's really no need.


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2020 11:42 a.m. PST



Quaama03 Sep 2020 12:14 p.m. PST

remember to tell the audience that the Cherokee held black slaves too

Yes they did, no argument from me. I understand that several tribes did and it was not an isolated incident.

Grant's adjutant and personal secretary was Lt. Col. Ely Parker …

I had forgotten about him. Were there others? Perhaps the prohibition was only against Native Americans holding officer ranks in terms of commanding troops.

Bill N03 Sep 2020 2:18 p.m. PST

Although, in contemporary terms, the CSA is considered a racist nation

Even by mid-19th century standards the Confederacy was a racist nation. That the Confederacy had better relations with the "civilized nations" in the Indian Territory allowing delegates from some to sit in the Confederate Congress, and that the Confederacy was more tolerant of Jews, having a Jewish cabinet member and readily accepting Jewish chaplins, does not diminish Confederate racism.

The Confederacy was not "pro-Indian," they were "Anti-Union,"

It is not as simple as that. While the Confederacy was certainly willing to use the nations of the Indian Territory to further their interests, there were also a number of shared insterests between those nations and the Confederacy that made it easy for the Confederacy to woo them.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP04 Sep 2020 12:58 p.m. PST

Thanks Bill N….


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