Friday, December 11, 2009

Chief Charlot

We bring Indian Chief week to a close here at OPOD with this fine picture of Chief Charlot. He was a very interesting figure, and leader of the Salish of Montana from 1870 to 1910. He tried to live peacefully with the White Man, but was treated harshly. He had a great speech about his trials, and an excerpt is below:

"We befriended him, and showed the fords and defiles of our lands. We owe him nothing. He owes us more than he will pay. His laws never gave us a blade of grass nor a tree nor a duck nor a grouse nor a trout. You know that he comes as long as he lives, and takes more and more, and dirties what he leaves."


  1. Great picture of Chief Charlot!

  2. This week's photos were very powerful and I appreciate you posting them.

  3. Chief Charlot must have been bitter, which is understandable. And, I suppose it is customary and PC to romanticize the Indian's way of life, and apologize for what our ancestors "did to them". But this weeks photos have left me thinking how incredibly primitive the American Indian was. Without metal working skills, they also couldn't work with wood effectively. i.e. Cut firewood, build wood shelters, etc. They raised very little food by cultivating crops and raising livestock, gardening vegetables, or starting orchards or vineyards. And if you have ever tried hunting with a bow and arrow, you know how difficult it would have been to feed a family. I am quite sure that many Indians died from starvation and exposure to the elements.

    I am not criticizing them, or belittling them, I am simply pointing out that their life was incredibly difficult and that our ancestors probably did Chief Charlot’s people a much bigger service than he knew, or was willing to admit. Nevertheless, I understand his apparent bitterness. Having change forced upon you would make anyone angry.

  4. Ah, Dan! My husband is half Cherokee. Have you ever heard of the Trail of Tears?

  5. I believe his name was Charlo...with no "t" at the end. Nevertheless a fine capture of interesting times.

  6. Our government has never done anything kindly toward American Indians. There are no blessings in disguise.

    The taking of lands, a long trail of broken treaties, kidnapping children from their parents and putting the in "special schools" to assimilate them into the dominant society, massive marginalization of the Native American culture, etc. etc. etc.

    Having change forced upon you is one thing. Our government's immoral and unethical practices were egregious and unforgivable.

    White man taught the native culture to hunt game beyond immediate needs and sell meat for profit. This was at the peril of the Indians who ran short of game for their own needs.

    Native Americans taught white settlers how to plant corn and about natural fertilization. The Indians were able to live off the bounties of nature.

    Only after being driven to barren lands and suppressed by the dominant society did Native Americans begin to live in poverty.

    Telling the truth does not concern being politically correct, it simply is about telling the history correctly.

  7. This is a beautiful photo.

    I agree that Native Americans were treated unfairly - but so were a lot of others centuries ago.

    And I also agree with Dan (to some extent) that the American Indians were not sophisticated enough to deal with the European immigrants. I’m not impugning their intelligence; it’s just that the cultural differences were too great. Extinction happens for a reason - it’s part of natural evolution..

    We can see a modern-day parallel in those deluded individuals who think that the United States can really force peace, democracy, and stability onto third-world countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s NEVER going to happen - their society and culture simply doesn’t have the means - economically, socially, or intellectually. And maybe they don’t even want to. There will never be peace in the Middle East, either.

    History DOES need to be told correctly, but I don’t think we should go overboard in judging the past by today's values and standards, because these criteria are subjective and ever-changing. It is illogical to blame a dead person for something that they did 100 years ago, just because WE wouldn’t do the same thing today.

    Did you ever stop to think that even though we consider ourselves to be enlightened and informed, future generations may look back on some of OUR attitudes and consider them unacceptable?

    Depending on whose side one is on, the same story can appear very different. We always hear quotes such as “History is written by the victors” or “History is written by the victims.” They may be trite, but they’re true to some degree.