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Ethnic Cleansing

This work portrays the sad reality of the "winning of the west", and how we as a society, when wrapped up in our own self-righteousness, can ignore our most important principles. The work is based on a map of North and South Dakota because the closing event of the Indian Wars, the massacre at Wounded Knee, took place there; and a number of the greatest Native American chiefs lived there. Quotations of Native Americans are scratched into the cracked earth of the reservations, and contrasting words from U.S. Army Generals, government officials and others are inscribed on state lands. It depicts the forces of conquest: Arrogance, Greed, Ignorance, Power and Self-righteousness sweeping over the land and holding in place the walls around the reservations. Overhead views of modern cities float atop the "tides of conquest."


1. It is a good day to die.
- Crazy Horse

2. We did not ask you white men to come here. The Great Spirit gave us this country as a home. You had yours. We did not interfere with you. But you have come here; you are taking my land from me; you are killing off our game. We do not want your civilization! We would live as our fathers did, and their fathers before them.
- Crazy Horse

3. This war has come from robbery - from the stealing of our land.
- Spotted Tail

4. When I was a boy the Sioux owned the world; the sun rose and set on their land; they sent ten thousand men to battle. Where are the warriors today? Who slew them? Where are our lands? Who owns them? What white man can say I ever stole his land or a penny of his money? Yet, they say I am a thief. What white woman, however lonely, was ever captive or insulted by me? Yet they say I am a bad Indian. What white man has ever seen me drunk? Who has ever come to me hungry and left me unfed? Who has ever seen me beat my wives or abuse my children? What law have I broken? Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?
- Sitting Bull

5. Our country was full of game. But since the war the animals seem to detest their native haunts, and I believe it is by the smell of human blood that they are driven away.
- Black Moon

6. There is no use talking to these Americans; they are all liars, you cannot believe anything they say. No matter what terms they offer, we cannot accept them, because we have no faith in their promises.
- Sitting Bull

7. I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream. The nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.
- Black Elk

8. I have two mountains in my country - the Black Hills and the Big Horn Mountains. I want the Great Father to make no roads through them, for when the white man comes in my country, he leaves behind a trail of blood.
- Red Cloud

9. For the railroads you are passing through my country I have not even received so much as a brass ring for the land they occupy.
- Red Cloud


A. The more we can kill this year, the less will have to be killed the next year. For the more I see of these Indians, the more I am convinced that they all have to be killed, or be maintained as a species of paupers.
- Gen. William Sherman

B. We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children. Nothing else will reach the root of this case.
- Gen. William Sherman

C. This civilization may not be the best possible, but it is the best the Indians can get. They can not escape it, and must either conform to it or be crushed by it. The tribal relations should be broken up, socialism destroyed, and the family and the autonomy of the individual substituted.
- Thomas Morgan, Commissioner of Indian Affairs

D. We behold him now on the verge of extinction, standing on his last foothold, clutching his bloodstained rifle, resolved to die amidst the horrors of slaughter. And soon, he will be talked of as a noble race who once existed but had now passed away.
- Gen. George Custer

E. Let them kill, skin and sell until the buffalo is exterminated, as it is the only way to bring lasting peace, and allow civilization to advance.
- Gen. Phillip Sheridan

F. Indeed, whatever may be the theory, the government has always demanded the removal of the Indians when their lands were required for agricultural purposes by advancing settlements.
- Caleb Smith, U.S. Sec. of the Interior

G. The Indian in truth has no longer a country. His lands are everywhere pervaded by white men. His means of subsistence destroyed, and the homes of his tribe violently taken from him.
- Gen. John Pope

H. The true economy, in my opinion, is to put troops enough in the country to drive the Indians to the wall at once; to exterminate them if they won't give up; to put them on reservations if they do give up; and have done with it.
- Gen. James Carleton

I. Whatever I have asked the tribes to do, or accede to, has been in the form of a demand. They have, from the commencement of this campaign, been treated, not as independent nations, but as refractory subjects of a common government.
- Gen. George Custer

J. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up with one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.
- L. Frank Baum, Editor, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer

K. Whatever may be the right or wrong of the question, the Indian must be dispossessed.
- Gen. John Pope

L. If he has come here to tell us of the corruption of our Indian system and dishonesty of Indian agents, tell him that we know it. But the Government never reforms an evil until the people demand it.
- Edwin Stanton, U.S. Sec. of War

M. The Sioux and Cheyennes are now so circumscribed that I suppose they must be exterminated, for they cannot and will not settle down, and our people will force us to it.
- Gen. William Sherman


South Dakota town where L. Frank Baum, through his editorials in "The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer" newspaper, called for the total extermination of the Indians. Ten years later, Mr. Baum published "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz."

Black Hills
Sacred Lakota lands where, in 1874, General George Custer led a military and gold-seeking expedition in violation of the 1868 Treaty of Laramie. Custer's reports of gold brought thousands of prospectors who occupied the Black Hills. The U.S. government ignored the treaty and forced the Lakota out of the Black Hills.

Standing Rock
Indian reservation where, on December 15, 1890, an unarmed Sitting Bull was murdered by tribal police sent by the U.S. Indian agent to arrest him. His murder inflamed U.S. Army fears of an Indian uprising which led, two weeks later, to the massacre at Wounded Knee.

Wounded Knee
Creek in South Dakota where some 90 warriors and 200 women and children were massacred by the U.S. Army on December 29, 1890. Women and children were hunted down and killed up to two miles from the scene of the battle. The dead were buried in a mass grave.

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