THE PRICE OF OBTAINING NEW LAND
In 1876, Congress called for the removal of certain Native American tribes to ‘Indian Territory,’ which is in present-day Oklahoma. The Ponca tribe was one of the tribes called to be moved to the Indian Territory. The Ponca, unlike some of the other Indian tribes, actually had peaceful relations with the United States at the time. They did not fight back against the United States when government officials first came to visit the tribes; in fact, the Ponca tried to stay as diplomatic as possible with the U.S. and even signed treaties and trade agreements with them. However, the U.S. broke their treaties with the Ponca and instead removed them from their land to the Indian Territory. Chief Standing Bear, one of the chiefs in the Ponca tribe, tells his account of the removal of his tribe in the 1870s and how the United States poorly handled it.
For the most part, Chief Standing Bear does not explicitly state any hostility or resentment that he may have had toward the inspector or the president. Standing Bear did not say anything positive or negative about the inspector outside of saying that he and the other two men “made [their] trouble.” Instead, he goes into detail about the different hardships that his tribe had to endure during the entire ordeal. After the inspector got angry and decided to leave the Ponca chiefs to walk home from the Indian Territory, Standing Bear described the harsh journey back for him and the other Ponca chiefs: “It was winter.… At night we slept in haystacks.… The soles of our moccasins wore out. We went barefoot in the snow. We were nearly dead when we reached the Otoe Reserve.” Upon reaching the Indian Territory after Standing Bear’s arrest, he described the Ponca’s trip and the results of the poor conditions of the land: “Many died on the road. Two of my children died…. all my horses died. The water was very bad. All our cattle died… I stayed till [sic] one hundred and fifty-eight of my people had died. Then I ran away with thirty of my people, men and women and children. Some of the children were orphans.” Many of Standing Bear’s tribe members, including two of his children, had died in this Indian removal, but not once did he curse the inspector or the government for these atrocities. Instead, he illustrated to the reader the troubles and suffering that he and his tribe went through. The purpose of this document doesn’t seem to be to show what Standing Bear thinks of the U.S. government or to condemn them for their actions. This document seems to have been written with the intent to simply present to us the evidence that had been given to Standing Bear and to possibly coerce the reader do all of the condemning for him.
The inspector seemed to have a plan in store for the Ponca tribe the entire time. When the inspector arrived, he told the tribe that the president said that they needed to move to the Indian Territory, and that they would receive money for the land that they are giving...