An Attempt to Understand

ImageI’ve been away from my writing for a while. Part of it due to business travel and later an accident involving one of my children. My youngest daughter was driving with probably little care in the world on Tuesday August 13th. On that date she made an over correction in her directed path and used her beautiful KIA Soul to take out a telephone pole. She rolled the vehicle as well. The picture on the right shows the damage. She was alone in the vehicle and miraculously walked away from it. I’ll say one thing about a KIA Soul, they have good crash protection.

There’s been quite a bit to write about over the past couple of weeks and today I’ll start with a historical perspective. I’ve previously given my opinion on Private Bradley Manning. He was sentenced today to serve 35 years in prison for the thousands of leaked documents to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. In recap, having spent 4 active years in the Marines and giving an oath to protect the country as well as keep secret and confidential information, I know I wouldn’t have done what he or Edward Snowden did.

I think that the best way to understand their actions is to examine them against a completely separate period of time in our nations history.  For some, this may seem obtuse however, if you understand how history is filtered through the eyes and hands of those ultimately with a dominant voice, you may see the actions of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange with WikiLeaks from a different perspective.

A Nation at War with its Indigenous People

The U.S. government wanted to contain Native Plains-Indians to reservations, especially focusing on this after the Civil War. After gold was discovered in 1875, in South Dakota’s Black Hills, the U.S. Army ignored previous treaty agreements and began with Calvary incursions into the region. This betrayal led many Sioux and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana.

By the spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River, which they called the Greasy Grass. They did this in defiance of an order to return to reservations.

I find this Native story and another written from a soldier’s perspective to be both revealing and congruous with each other. The Battle of the Little Big Horn has been retold in several movies but none seem accurate.

These reports reveal a lack of command and control over the situation by the Calvary.  Each Army group operated independently and seemed to lack understanding of battle tactics against their attackers combined with unfamiliar terrain and an inferior force which led to their defeat. It appears the Calvary expected a rout but got into a fight with larger numbers and better coördination of attack. Once engaged with the Sioux, some of the soldiers wanted to just give up or panic. Both of those actions are readily exploitable by an enemy prepared and willing to fight.

George Armstrong Custer: (b) Dec 5, 1839 ~ (d) Jun 25, 1876

George Armstrong Custer: (b) Dec 5, 1839 ~ (d) Jun 25, 1876

In June of 1876, three columns of U.S. soldiers were gathered and prepared to march against the Uncpapas, Santee, Oglala’s, Brule, Minneconjou, Sans Arcs’, Blackfeet, Cheyenne and few Arikara among the larger contingent of Sioux. A smaller force of 1,200 Indians pushed back the first column on June 17th. General Alfred Terry ordered George Custer’s 7th Cavalry 5 days later, to scout ahead for enemy troops. On the morning of June 25th, Custer led a force of 600 men near the encampment and decided to press on ahead rather than wait for reinforcements. His direct force of about 210 men were wiped out in less than an hour by a superior force of approximately 3000 in an open indefensible area. In addition to Custer, two of his brothers, a brother-in-law and nephew were killed.

These battles were the high point to Native American victories but they were falsely portrayed as blood-thirsty savages attacking our heroic defenders in newspapers throughout the U.S. It demonstrates to me how those who have the power will write according to their own viewpoint.

Native American Heritage Day (photos of my anc...

Native American Heritage Day (photos of my ancestors in background) (Photo credit: Neeta Lind)

If you were living in a country attacked by invaders, perhaps you might fully understand the Native point of view. Additionally, when you examine the results of the revelations by WikiLeaks and Snowden, you might ask, how did this harm our nation? Did these leaks compromise national security or did they show how our national leadership routinely demonstrates very little concern for the welfare of others? Do these current stories seem all too familiar with our history?