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Volume 9, Issue 1: Son of Hisoria

Appomattox and Wounded Knee

S. Stephen Thomas

There is occasion and causes why and wherefore in all things.[1]
-- William Shakespeare

Historical analysis often traffics in irrelevance. For those who see only random occurrences and disconnected events. This "history happens" school of thought, views similarity much like the joke which asks, "What does a redneck divorce and a tornado have in common?"[2] The humor, if any, lies in what very different kinds of things share in common.

A much different procedure--less amusing and more enlightening--is to identify common, related characteristics of historical events. Doing so brings us nearer to the "why and wherefore" of the issues which shaped our nations and helps makes us more like the men of Issachar--men who understand the times.
When we consider the Indian nations and the Old South in this light, we see they had more in common than the same land mass. They had the same enemy: the centralized North. They both fought the same coercive arrogance which asserts itself over free nations. This god of power reigns still and remains unsatiated after sacrificing over a half-million white Americans and multitudes of their Indian neighbors. Today it continues on a global scale. The issues are still alive, and we must, in Dabney's words, be certain the issues are dead before we bury them.
While the Union's conflict with various Indian nations had been addressed before, it was President Andrew Jackson's speech in 1830 on Indian Removal which marked the beginning of the Union's radical interventionist policies. Somewhat different was the Southern practice where the Indians had been assimilated and welcomed into Southern life. The Five Civilized Tribes, so called because they were Christianized, mainly supported the South, having little ideological affinity with the North. And for that, they brought on the wrath of the North after the war.
Although breaking treaties with Indians occurred prior to the war, it was the Northern lust for covenant-breaking after the war which culminated in the numerous Indian conflicts of the late 1860's to the 1890's. That these "wars" occurred immediately after the War Between the States is no coincidence. Yankees! The Redman was not on the warpath against the Greycoats.
What caused the North's opposition? The answer is found in the national religious consensus. The faith of the nation differed from the European Christian settlers of previous centuries who treated Indians with more care as persons needing the gospel. But the new American garden had spiritual weeds which were left unchecked and thus produced a rich harvest of spiritual decline. Follow the War Between the States, the theology of the churches degenerated greatly. What once was a land of Theocentric faith was now, due to sloth by God's people and vigorous "enlightenment" thinking, a land of increasing spiritual darkness.
As biblical thought and practice waned, humanism waxed bolder, such that by the early 1800's there were serious philosophical and practical differences among those who named the name of Christ. The church, denying her fathers, was unable and unwilling to oppose this secular juggernaut. Content to "save souls" in true Platonic fashion, they exchanged the majesty of the Triune God for the vanity of human ability.
What was the purpose for this Northern aggression? The North was simply enlarging her borders ideologically against the South and geographically against the Indians. Conversely, the South sought to regain her independence, and the Indians fought to regain theirs. This Northern coalition of radical humanists, Unitarians, and pietistic evangelicals would, in their hypocrisy, treat the Indian peoples of this land far worse than the South treated blacks in her charge. Far from being the defenders of liberty and justice for all, the North proved to be haters of the free and the brave.
But how should we view this today? First, those who consider themselves philosophically aligned with the Northern cause against the South must support the same policies when carried out against the Indian peoples. Second, to propose returning to the antebellum South or the happy hunting grounds of yesteryear when Christ was not named among them is to play Lot's wife. Defying God's judgment in this way met its end at Appomattox and Wounded Knee.
The common solution to these and other historical tragedies can be found only in humble, Spiritual, submission to God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ. Then will "Western empires own their Lord and savage tribes attend His word."

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