Cultural relativism teaches that atrocities… committed by American Indians during the decades long conflict with the US government are acceptable because of the quasi-noble status bestowed upon them by academia. Postmortem mutilations and beheadings are seen as cultural oddities in our history, though we abhor them in other societies today. No doubt, academics feel that Americans deserved the barbarous treatment because of the “crimes” that we carried out against “innocent” peoples.
The First Sioux War is a surprising case-in-point… the typical New Left interpretation holds that the noble Lakota were simply pushed too far by the broken promises of the US government. Lost in all the politically correct gibberish is the fact that the US military was actually keeping the peace between the Sioux and the Cheyenne. Sioux villages had migrated south to the Platte River basin, long the home of the Cheyenne- war was imminent. To add more stress to the situation, long wagon trains of American settlers were traveling through the same region. The tiny force garrisoned at Fort Laramie was hardly sufficient considering the volatile climate- the Sioux had nearly 2,000 warriors nearby led by the hot-headed, Red Cloud.
Lieutenant John Grattan and the 29 soldiers… killed with him on August 19, 1854 were victims. Historians put words into Grattan’s mouth trying to vilify him, but his murder was a complex event. The Sioux villages, prepared for war against the Cheyenne(or Americans, whichever provoked them first) targeted the wagon trains during the hot summer months. Lt. Gratten was forced to solve a civil dispute between a US citizen and a Sioux warrior who stole the man’s cow. No Indian agents were available to mediate as required by the first Fort Laramie treaty. Gratten wanted to stand his ground, Red Cloud was out for blood- 30 minutes later, Gratten and his men were dead. Far from some preordained lesson handed down to the US Army- the Grattan massacre is a testament to the convoluted and violent struggle for the future of western expansion.