President Trump, in his first days in office, has been drawing comparisons of himself to Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States, a populist who campaigned against elites and was known as temperamental and rash. Trump’s chief adviser, Stephen Bannon, ordered a portrait of Jackson, with his distinctive shock of white hair, to be hung in the Oval Office. The White House has confirmed that Bannon was the co-author of Trump’s “very Jacksonian” inaugural address.
I originally posted the following information on my blog, in 2013, as a historical perspective regarding President Andrew Jackson and his official treatment of the Native American population by the United States government. I was attempting to bring attention to what happened to the indigenous community in my native state, North Dakota.
As a cautionary warning from almost four years ago – when someone tells you who they are – or who the admire – believe them!
Originally Posted June 22, 2013
I was born and raised on the prairies of North Dakota, so let me give you a little history lesson about my state. The information I am relaying in this blog was not taught to me in the elementary school, high school or university that I attended. I discovered it myself after doing research on my own as an adult. The reader is free to do the same.
Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States, signed the Indian Removal Act in May of 1830, in an effort to displace Native Americans from their land to make way for white settlers. On December 6, 1830, he outlined his removal policy in his Second Annual Message to Congress.
Activities pursuant to this Act continued for the next 40 years, and escalated during 1873-1883. The United States government, in coordination with commercial hide-hunting companies, promoted the slaughter of the American buffalo, including those in the Dakota Territory, my homeland. The bison was a primary source of sustenance for the Great Plains Indian tribes, as well many other tribes across the United States.
The decimation of the buffalo was part of a deliberate, and successful, effort to starve the Indians into submission. Many high-ranking U.S. officials were explicit about their intentions. In 1873, Secretary of the Interior Columbus Delano declared “The civilization of the Indian is impossible while the buffalo remains upon the plains.” Two years later, General Philip Sheridan told a joint session of Congress that buffalo hunters had done more to settle what he called “the vexed Indian question” than the entire U.S. army was able to accomplish. Sheridan urged the politicians to continue to support the hunters. “For the sake of lasting peace,” he said, “let them kill, skin and sell until the buffaloes are exterminated.”
By 1884, the bison population in the United States was basically extinct. Although the exact extent of the carnage cannot be determined, it has been estimated that the population of 30 to 50 million buffalo was reduced to less than 1,000. This is one of the worst, and perhaps the most under-reported, animal slaughters by humans ever undertaken on our planet.
And, as planned, the systemic annihilation of the Native Americans was well on its way to victory.
Well done, President Jackson. Mission accomplished!