“On July 3rd, 1863 Mdewakanton Dakota Sioux Little Crow and his son Wowinapa were foraging for berries on their traditional lands in Minnesota, when they were spotted by Nathan Lamson and his son. Minnesota had recently enacted a law that paid a bounty of $25 for every Sioux scalp. Little Crow was killed while his son escaped; Little Crow’s scalp was put on public display in St. Paul, Minnesota while his body was transported back to Hutchinson where it was again mutilated by the citizens. His body was dragged down the town’s Main Street while firecrackers were placed in his ears and dogs picked at his head. After their celebration, the town disposed of the body in an alley, where ordinary garbage was regularly thrown.”
— Frederick Douglas
On this day in history, September 3, 1838: Frederick Douglas escaped from slavery in Maryland, and fled to New York. Born in 1818 to a slave mother, Douglas was sent to work in the Baltimore shipyards as a caulker. He secretly learned to read and write during this time period, and was ultimately able to escape using forged identity papers. After his escape, Douglas became one of the leading abolitionists in the United States, writing prolifically on the subject of slavery, editing an abolitionist newspaper, and traveling all over the country to raise awareness . After chattel slavery was made illegal and replaced by Jim Crow segregation and lynchings, he spent the rest of his life actively resisting the racist exploitation of black folks, as well as standing up for the rights of women and immigrants.Douglas died on February 20, 1895 and was buried at Mount Hope Cemetary in Rochester, New York.
On this day, March 23, 1918, 101 members of the radical labor union Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) went on trial in Chicago for opposing World War I. They were charged with violating the Espionage Act and Selective Service Act for their anti-war activities, such as distributing literature which criticized war and encouraging people to resist the draft.
The jury found them all guilty, and the judge sentenced Big Bill Haywood and 14 others to 20 years in prison. 33 others were given ten years each, 34 received five year sentences, and 18 received two year sentences. They were also fined a total of $2,500,000.
The trial imprisoned almost all of the IWW’s most active organizers — including their national/regional organizers, Executive Board members, and newspaper editors, amongst others, and played a major role in the decline of the IWW over the following years.
On February 14, 1779 Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy was killed by natives in Kealakekua Bay, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Cook was a true savage, who sailed across the world bringing murder, rape, disease, and colonialism to native peoples all over the Pacific. When he was killed, Cook was trying to kidnap the Hawaiian Aliʻi (tribal chief) Kalaniʻōpuʻu in response to an unknown person stealing a small boat. In the process, he had threatened to open fire on the islanders.
At this point, the Hawaiians decided they had enough of Cook’s bullshit. Realizing that he had been manipulating them throughout the course of his stay in Hawaii, witnessing the sexual depredations of Cook’s men, seeing how brutish and toxic European culture really was … and now being threatened with mass murder and the kidnapping of one of their tribal leaders, the Hawaiian islanders finally gave this piece of shit what he deserved: a beatdown on the beach, and a knife to the chest. This put an end to a lifetime of predatory behavior and conquest of lands in the service to the British empire.
So how about instead of celebrating a boring consumerist holiday like Valentine’s Day, we celebrate something awesome, like the death of Captain Cook … Happy Killed Captain Cook Day!
On This Day: In 1997 armed paramilitary troops with assault rifles entered and attacked the unarmed Tzotzil Maya village of Acteal in Chiapas, Mexico in what has come to be known as the Acteal Massacre. The Tzotzil were attending a prayer meeting when the troops entered the village and massacred 45 people, including pregnant women and children. The paramilitary troops were retaliating against the Zapatista National Liberation Army, whom the Tzotzil had supported.
Declassified documents reveal the role of the Mexican government and military in this massacre: The documents describe a clandestine network of “human intelligence teams,” created in mid-1994 with approval from then-President Carlos Salinas, working inside Indian communities to gather intelligence information on Zapatista “sympathizers.” In order to promote anti-Zapatista armed groups, the teams provided “training and protection from arrests by law enforcement agencies and military units patrolling the region.”
(Text from: Indigenous People’s Issues & Resources, Facebook)
On this day in history, December 15, 1890: After a lifetime of resistance to the U.S. genocide of Native peoples, Sitting Bull (Thatháŋka Íyotake), was murdered by Indian agency police on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation during an attempt to arrest him for supporting the Ghost Dance movement.
He lived a truly amazing life. Here are some of his words for reflection:
“Behold, the Spring has come; the earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every seed is awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land.
Yet, hear me, people, we have now to deal with another race – small and feeble when our fathers first met them but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough they have a mind to till the soil and the love of possession is a disease with them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break but the poor may not. They take their tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the earth, for their own and fence their neighbors away; they deface her with their buildings and their refuse. The nation is like a spring freshet that overruns its banks and destroys all that are in its path.
We cannot dwell side by side. Only seven years ago we made a treaty by which we were assured that the buffalo country should be left to us forever. Now they threaten to take that away from us. My brothers, shall we submit or shall we say to them: “First kill me before you take possession of my land…””
(From a speech at the Powder River Council, 1877)
On this day in history, December 11, 1981: Units from the U.S. trained/funded Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army killed more than 800 civilians (over half of whom were children) in the village of El Mozote, El Salvador and the surrounding area.
The Atlacatl was a “Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalion” specially trained for counter-insurgency warfare, trained by United States military advisors. The U.S. government, under Jimmy Carter (a Nobel Peace Prize winner, like fellow mass murderer Obama), was funneling enormous amounts of military aid to the Salvadoran military at the time.
El Mozote consisted of about twenty houses situated on open ground around a square. Facing onto the square was a church and, behind it, a small building known as “the convent”, used by the priest to change into his vestments when he came to the village to celebrate mass. Near the village was a small schoolhouse. Upon arrival, the soldiers found not only the residents of the village but also campesinos who had sought refuge from the surrounding area. The soldiers ordered everyone out of their houses and into the square. They made them lie face down, searched them, and questioned them about the guerrillas. They then ordered the villagers to lock themselves in their houses until the next day, warning that anyone coming out would be shot. The soldiers remained in the village during the night.
Early the next morning, the soldiers reassembled the entire village in the square. They separated the men from the women and children and locked them in separate groups in the church, the convent, and various houses. During the morning, they proceeded to interrogate, torture, and execute the men in several locations. Around noon, they began taking the women and older girls in groups, separating them from their children and machine gunning them after raping them. Girls as young as 10 were raped, with some soldiers reportedly heard bragging that they especially liked the twelve-year-old girls. Finally, they killed the children, often by slitting their throats … sometimes hanging them from trees. After killing the entire population, the soldiers set fire to the buildings.
The US officially praised the efficiency of the Atlacatl Batallion on several occasions. During a Senate hearing on El Salvador which took place on 8 February 1992, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Elliott Abrams stated that ‘the battalion to which you refer [Atlacatl] has been complimented at various times in the past over its professionalism and over the command structure and the close control in which the troops are held when they go into battle’.
The perpetrators of the El Mozote and other equally vicious massacres – along with their supporters in the Carter and Reagan administrations (including the Presidents themselves) – were never charged, as authorities granted all forces a general pardon following the peace accords of 1992 which put an end to the war.
[These photos from the U.S. backed dirty war in El Salvador were taken from the book “El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers (1983)” … keep this fresh in your mind, because this is, no doubt, how your tax dollars are being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq right now.]
On this day in history, November 29, 1864: 700 U.S. Army troops under the command of Colonel John Chivington rode into a village of Cheyenne and Arapaho in the southwestern Colorado Territory. They opened fire on the villagers killing 150+ people, the large majority of whom were elderly and children. They then proceeded to mutilate the corpses, and take souvenirs of body parts … after it was all over, more than half of Black Kettle’s band had been murdered. Chivington, a national “hero”, still has a town named after himself.
President Theodore Roosevelt said that the massacre was “as righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the frontier“.
“I saw the bodies of those lying there cut all to pieces, worse mutilated than any I ever saw before; the women cut all to pieces … With knives; scalped; their brains knocked out; children two or three months old; all ages lying there, from sucking infants up to warriors …”
—- John S. Smith, Congressional Testimony of Mr. John S. Smith, 1865
“Fingers and ears were cut off the bodies for the jewelry they carried. The body of White Antelope, lying solitarily in the creek bed, was a prime target. Besides scalping him the soldiers cut off his nose, ears, and testicles-the last for a tobacco pouch …”
—- Stan Hoig