July 17, 2009

Indians fought for American independence

Native Patriots in IAIS Program

By Jaime FerrisThe American Revolution, in popular imagination, is a white man's effort--particularly a white American man's effort, with only passing assistance from the French. It is not emphatically seen as a part of Native American history; rather, Native Americans are usually cast in the role of foes in American history books.

But Native Americans and black slaves had their places in the American Revolution, just as they have fought in all American wars. They fought with the same courage, determination and spirit with which they struggled to protect their own homeland.

Recognizing this important, albeit forgotten, part of American history, the Institute for American Indian Studies (IAIS) in Washington will pay homage to these brave men and women in "Native American Patriots," a small exhibit in July and August honoring Native Americans who fought for the United States.
And:"The talk will focus on Native Americans and blacks during the American Revolution, both of which played quite a significant role," Mr. Wagner said. "The problem is deciphering the various ethnic groups. Slaves went by their master's name and Native Americans and mulatto soldiers were usually buried ... in unmarked graves. It is hard to cross reference the various ethnic groups, especially when you take into consideration the fact that British offered freedom to slaves if they fought for the British cause."

Mr. Wagner, a historian by profession, stumbled upon this chapter of history while conducting research for his other paintings. Among his findings was a letter from Gen. George Washington in 1778 that noted, "I think [Indians] can be made of excellent use, as scouts and light troops."
And:He discovered the First Rhode Island Regiment, which he depicted in a painting called "The Grand Parade in Providence." He recalls the historical circumstances surrounding the piece.

"A day before departing south, the French and American forces held a parade through the streets of Providence ... [where] the American unit of the First Rhode Island [was] being reviewed by General Rochambeau atop his horse," Mr. Wagner said. "His aide-de-camp, the Baron Ludwig Von Closen, ... recorded in his journal that none of the American units could compare to the spit and polish of the French army except the First Rhode Island, and that regiment, 'which is three-quarters negro and the rest Native American, is the best dressed, the best under arms, and the most precise in its maneuvers.'"

He said the First Rhode Island was involved in every major battle of the war.

"Native American tribes in the West that were fearful of American expansion into their traditional tribal grounds tended to become British loyalists and joined in fighting against the colonists," Ms. Temmen said. "Tribes along the East Coast who had become part of American-English society viewed the Revolution as an opportunity to prove themselves worthy of political and social equality by exhibiting loyalty to their patriot neighbors."

This is evident in Mr. Wagner's "Desperate Valor," which shows the newly-formed First Rhode Island regiment in action against the Anspach Regiment at Newport-Portsmouth on Aug. 28, 1778. Mr. Wagner noted that "This regiment turned back three attempts by the British to break their line. The delay allowed General Sullivan to escape to the mainland while these troops defended and held off the British advance.

The biographer for General Sullivan recorded their action with this entry: "The black troops under Col. Christopher Green displayed desperate valor by holding off three attempts by Hessian troops to break their line."
Comment:  Compare the exploits of the black and Indian troops in the First Rhode Island Regiment to the lack of blacks and Indians in the Peter's Progress episode of Family Guy. Whether the creators are ignorant of the facts or not, they're literally whitewashing US history. They're contributing to the myth that America was founded by white people for white people.

For more on the subject, see Forgotten Native Patriots and Fun Fourth of July Facts.


Anonymous said...

"America was founded by white people for white people."

Indeed, ironically I saw this same ignorant argument on the Rachel Maddow show on Thursday night, in which Pat Buchanon(spelling check) was a guest. He asininely implied the same argument. The airing of this piece can be found at The Raw Story(www.rawstory.com)


Rob said...

I heard about Buchanan's latest idiocy. I'm too overworked to bash him for his usual bigoted claims. But if someone else bashes him, I'll probably post it.

Stephen said...

I'm not suprised family guy left it out, that show is vile, when a talentless hack like Kevin Smith hate you know it has to suck.

Stephen said...

And of course let's not forget how the constitution was influenced the Iriquis confederation.