Unintentional deaths do not equal genocide

By and

Editor:

I am writing in response to Don MacAngus’ letter (“Compromises generally don’t include genocide,” April 5).

MacAngus is certainly correct in saying that most American Indians’ deaths were because of disease. However, it is outside the limits of factual history to say these diseases were “intentional acts” committed against American Indians by the military and settlers. Where is the proof?

It should be quite easy to document this, if it were true. In fact, I am aware of only one documented incident of intentional disease spreading.

This took place in 1763 during a siege against British soldiers and settlers at Fort Pitt in Pennsylvania. The British commander gave representatives of the attacking Delaware Indians two blankets that had been exposed to smallpox.

One incident does not prove genocide. The fact that respected historical records are virtually void of Americans intentionally spreading disease would strongly argue against this charge. ??

Historian Guenter Lewy said there is no evidence that the United States ever attempted to deliberately infect American Indians. He goes on to state that the U.S. government even included American Indians in the smallpox vaccination program that was first funded in 1832.

MacAngus wonders what treaties were broken by both sides? Nearly all of them. American-Indian chiefs couldn’t control all of their people anymore than the U.S. government could control all Americans.

For example, the Sioux at Little Big Horn were off their reservation in violation of the signed treaty. The thousands of deprivations against white settlers by American Indians were always in violation of signed treaties.

The reservation system is far from the ideal solution, but it is an honest effort at a reasonable compromise. American Indians today are free to practice whatever culture or religion and speak any language they choose. For the first time in history, they are at peace with other tribes and have no fear of attack from them. Sounds like progress to me.

Scott Fife??Boise, Idaho