A headline on the NBC homepage a month after the warfare began in Israel and Gaza touches on the cyclical nature of violence: “Israel says it wants to destroy Hamas, but its Gaza assault could radicalize a new generation.”

          You think?

          With the slaughter of civilians by Israeli troops and bombardments in Gaza – following the slaughter of civilians in Israel by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, we should consider how deeply this violent streak runs through our unirace.

          Lessons from American history provide discouraging examples.

          In their 2016 book, “All the Real Indians Died Off: And 20 Other Myths about Native Americans”  Roxanna Dunbar-Ortiz and Dina Gilio-Whitaker claimed that most Indian on Indian warfare consisted of  “mourning wars” of a tit-for-tat, feuding, war party nature, similar to the attacks and retributions we are much too familiar with.

          But, they gloss over the many tribal ethnic-cleansing efforts. Unirace violence seems propelled by more than revenge.

          The Iroquois plotted continually and attacked often in an effort to eradicate their Wendat (Wyandotte/Huron) linguistic cousins.

          Hiawatha, an Onondagan, convinced the original five members of the Iroquois Confederacy to unite and quit killing each other. The logical extension to include every tribe did not arise. But, it would have likely proved as successful at averting violence as the League of Nations or United Nations.

           On State Highway 54 just north of where Highway 49 makes its western exit from the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge is a historical marker for the Cutthroat Gap Massacre.

           In 1833, while most able-bodied Kiowa warriors were out west looking to inflict damage upon their Ute enemies, an Osage war party fell upon the camp, killed most of the old men, women and children left there, cut off their heads and left them in the cooking pots in front of the Kiowa tipis.

          The site of Indian City U.S.A. south of Anadarko was also the site of an 1862 massacre of southern-sympathizing Tonkawas by Union-leaning Shawnees and other tribes from eastern Indian Territory.

           And, in 1873, by which time it should have behooved all Native Americans to unite against our encroaching ancestors, the Lakotas surprised a Pawnee camp in southwest Nebraska that now bears the name of Massacre Canyon. (The Pawnee had long fought alongside U.S. forces against their hereditary enemies.)

           Even the Hopi (the “peaceful people”) have a dark episode in their history, when several villages objected to perceived heresies in another village and wiped out the offenders. The ruins remain a mute testimony to intolerance.

           But, the Indians do not have to be portrayed as saints for the atrocities committed against them to be deplored and denounced.    

           Furthermore, since our ancestors called the natives “savages,” we cannot claim they did not know better while acting so savagely themselves.

          Just east of Taylor Lake southeast of Rush Springs, is the unmarked site of the Battle of the Wichita Village. On Oct. 1, 1858, Comanches visiting the Wichitas were attacked from the west by Maj. Earl Van Dorn and his Second Cavalry.

          The Comanches, who had been raiding in Texas, lost about 70 men, women and children. At the time of the attack, they had been negotiating peace with Ft. Arbuckle to the east.

          On Nov. 27, 1868, Lt. Col. George Custer, tracking Kiowa raiders, launched a surprise attack on Black Kettle’s Cheyenne camp on the Washita River. Black Kettle and his wife were killed almost immediately on what was almost the fourth anniversary of Col. John Chivington’s savage attack on Black Kettle’s camp at Sand Creek in Colorado.   

          Both were surprise attacks on villages led by one of the most recognized peace chiefs of the 19th century plains. Both were executed with the utmost brutality, the intent being the complete annihilation of those they were attacking. Both were led by officers who had served with distinction to preserve the Union.

          Custer did stop his slaughter in order to use captive women and children as human shields to abet his escape – and then as the raped rewards of victory for himself and his officers on their retreat to Camp Supply.

          Between these attacks on Black Kettle, in 1865, General Patrick Connor attacked Black Bear’s Arapaho village on the Tongue River near Ranchester, WY. Connor claimed to have killed 63 warriors, but neglected to count the women and children killed. As was the case at Cutthroat Gap, most Arapaho warriors were away from the village. They were looking to inflict damage upon Crow enemies.

          The purpose of Connor’s Powder River Expedition was to “pacify” the Northern Plains for the safety of travelers to the Montana gold fields. The result was that the Arapahos joined the Cheyenne and Lakota campaign against our invasion of their territory. The ensuing Red Cloud War ended with the native victory of having the forts along the Bozeman Trail abandoned and the signing of the Fort Laramie Treaty, which Custer later violated with his Black Hills Expedition – and which natives are still fighting to have enforced.

          This Battle of Tongue River is not to be confused with the Tongue River Massacre of 1820 in the same general location. Here, Lakota and Cheyenne allies fell upon a Crow village and killed all the old men, captured women and children, took the horse herd and burned the camp. Casualty figures are unavailable, but Crow leaders later reported the attack as devastating.

          The village was defenseless because the Crow camp, aware of the enemies’ presence in the area, had sent out its warriors to fight them though they never encountered each other.

          Thus, long before the blitz of rockets and bombs upon English civilians, the fire-bombing of Dresden, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the attacks on Americans on Sept. 11, 2001, the Russian bombing and rocket attacks on Ukrainian cities and the bloody slaughters in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, the indiscriminate killing of civilians to incite terror has been a staple of warfare.

          It can be traced back to the divinely sanctioned ethnic-cleansing of a “promised land” logged in the Bible, the accounts on Mayan stele that exploded the myth of “peaceful sky-watchers,” the utter destruction of Troy, Carthage and, no doubt, hundreds of other examples where there were no survivors to tell the story.

          Mutual brutality justifies neither side. In fact, most victims during the Indian Wars, sectarian violence and wars of ideology right down to today seldom have anything to do with committing the violence used as an excuse for bloody retributions.

          Slaughter innocents attending a music festival? Well, we can bomb ambulances and pediatric hospitals.

          In 2002, Jane Goodall told NPR’s Science Friday host Ira Flatow of her disappointment early in her study of chimpanzees to discover different groups of chimps waging total warfare against each other. No quarter; no exceptions.

          That seems to indicate that primate on primate violence has a long history.

          Intolerance seems to be a condition of the unirace, not limited to any nationality, sect or skin color. And violence is always the ultimate resort of intolerance, always threatened even when not spoken.

          Tolerance can be taught, but the lesson requires constant reinforcement.

          (Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)

A violent race – and we all lose

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