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Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠

A Blog by Gary Wright II

NDNs, War, and Peace

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

I'm watching "Into the West" and episode 4 Hell on Wheels is stirring up some mixed emotions for me. Cherokee Wes Studi plays the part of Black Kettle and he says without the buffalo, the only way for their children to earn their manhood is through warfare. When asked about a family recently killed by NDNs, he explains that there are bad white men, as well as bad NDNs. He attempts to broker peace with the "tall chief" in the fort, but is told that peace will only come when the NDNs lay down all of their weapons. The sole purpose of the soldiers was to kill all of the NDNs, so without an ongoing war - they're not sure what to do with them.

I know the show is fiction intermingled with a little bit of history, but it has me thinking about how the Cherokees might have turned out if things were done differently. There is a time for war and a time for peace, but it takes a different mindset to win at either one. I think the NDNs were on to something by having a chief of peace and a chief of war. What if in America the Commander in Chief and the President were two different people? How would that have changed our history?

I think the Cherokees, like all of the other tribes, were in a no-win situation. If they had stayed and fought, there would be none left. But by dividing the nation, they are finishing what the what man started by destroying each other. All of the land belonging to the NDNs was gained through brutal warfare and by conquering rival tribes. Is it fair to say the NDNs lost their land by the same means - by being conquered by the white man?

I recently started reading The Moravians in Georgia by Adelaide Fries, and I was somewhat shocked by the preface that said:

"In the life of any individual, association, or nation, there will probably be one or more occurrences which may be considered as success or failure according to the dramatic features of the event and the ultimate results. Of this the Battle of Bunker Hill is a striking example. On the morning of June 17th, 1775, a force of British soldiers attacked a small body of raw, ill-equipped American volunteers, who had fortified a hill near Boston, and quickly drove them from their position. By whom then was the Bunker Hill Monument erected? By the victors in that first engagement of the Revolution? No, but by proud descendants of the vanquished, whose broader view showed them the incalculable benefits arising from that seeming defeat, which precipitated the great struggle, forcing every man in the Colonies to take a position squarely for or against the American Cause, convinced the timid that only proper equipment would be needed to enable the American army to hold its own against the foe, and taught the British that they were dealing, not with hot-headed rebels who would run at first sight of the dreaded "red coats", but with patriots who would stand their ground so long as a charge of powder remained, or gunstocks could be handled as clubs."

We can't go back and change the past, but we are in complete control over the future direction of our people. What are the benefits the Cherokee gained, if any, by being "conquered"? What are the lessons from our past that may help us stay on the road to a brighter future?

Best regards,

-- Gary Wright II

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