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Civil War Years

This anti-Native American sentiment is echoed in books of the era such as Andrew Peabody’s The Hawaiian Islands (1865), which claimed that a “law of the divine Providence” caused some races to submit to those of “superior physical and intellectual vigor”:

Under this law . . . the aborigines of North America will ultimately disappear, and the humane policy which ought to have been pursued to them from the first would not have ensured their preservation in the land, though it would have averted the condemnation of blood-guiltiness from the European settlers. (Page 18)

Despite the prevalence of beliefs such as Andrew Peabody's, the Union Army welcomed many Native American volunteers to fight in the Civil War. James Blunt’s December 2, 1862 letter to Kansas Citizens requests aid to nearby refugee Indians driven from their homes “by the Rebel for no other reason than adhering in their allegiance to their great Father.”

Ironically, a year later, Kit Carson led the Union Army in an attack on the Navajos in the desert Southwest. Union Soldiers destroyed crops, orchards, livestock, and homes in a campaign to relocate the tribes to a federal reservation.

Thousands of Navajos surrendered to U.S. troops in 1864. These men, women, and children were forced to walk 300 miles to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. This legendary “Long Walk” ended at a small, disease-filled camp that served as a Navajo prison for four years.

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