Hollywood has perverted the history of Native Americans for decades, even more than a century. The movie industry is filled with images of “Indians” in war paint and riding across the plains slaughtering people and stealing horses. ALL of this is nothing more than box office appeal.

I was told most of my life that the history of our people has been passed from generation to generation by “word of mouth” by the elders. I want to pass some of this history along to you, but in this case it will be in writing.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida bears a motto of never being defeated or signed a treaty with the United States of America. The Seminoles of Florida rightly own and operate lands completely governed by a Tribal Government. They provide their own police department, have schools that out perform the public schools of the state. The Tribe purchased Hard Rock Cafes and Casinos and turned the tribe into one of the richest in the world.

But we are here to talk about history:

The Seminole wars lasted for years and the attempt to destroy the tribe was led by many army generals and at least one President. The tribes knowledge of jungle warfare was the reason for the development of today’s guerrilla warfare tactics. Not only the jungle warfare tactics in the swamps and forests of the Southeast though, but the hit and run tactics if the plains tribes was very successful. So successful in fact that the Army had to resort to trickery to gain any victory as evidenced by the great warrior Osceola of the Seminole tribe.

Osceola’s capture, under a controversial flag of truce offered by Gen. Thomas Jessup, remains today one of the blackest marks in American military history. A larger-than-life character, Osceola is the subject of numerous myths; his 1838 death in a Charleston, S.C. prison was noted on front pages around the world. At the time of his death, Osceola was the most famous American Indian.

Another myth perpetrated by Hollywood is the taking of scalps by the plains tribes. This practice was learned from white Indian fighters in Texas. The “counting coupe” as described by Hollywood did not mean scalping of enemies. This practice was initially the mere touching the dead body of a fallen brave. It was believed that if you touched the body of a fallen enemy, his bravery and spirit would transfer to you.

In a particularly bloody battle in Northern Texas, several “Indians” were killed and the white mercenaries involved scalped the bodies to take back as proof for payment. Needless to say this incensed the warriors that returned to collect the bodies of their fallen comrades. So the practice was performed in retaliation in future raids.

If you get the chance, please go to the Sand Creek Battleground on Colorado. The history here is that portions of the 7th U. S. Cavalry had surrounded a settlement of “Indians” at Sand Creek just before dawn. At dawn the soldiers attacked before anyone was awake and slaughtered all inhabitants in their tepees. When the Lakota braves returned they found that 300+ women and children had been slaughtered in their beds. This was given as one of the reasons that there was no mercy given to anyone in the battle of The Little Bighorn with the 7th Cavalry.

Another myth about the settlement of Oklahoma is disputed by the relocations cited as:

The Trail of Tears is a name given to the forced relocation and movement of Native American nations from southeastern parts of the United States following the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The removal included many members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations, among others in the United States, from their homelands to Indian Territory in eastern sections of the present-day state of Oklahoma. The phrase originated from a description of the removal of the Choctaw Nation in 1831.

Many Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease and starvation on the route to their destinations. Many died, including 60,000 of the 130,000 relocated Cherokee, intermarried and accompanying European-Americans, and the 2,000 African-American free blacks and slaves owned by the Cherokee they took with them. European Americans and African American freedmen and slaves also participated in the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee Creek and Seminole forced relocations.

In the late 1800′s two of the Seminole clans escaped from the Indian Territory and literally disappeared. One of those clans settled in Southwestern Missouri and became farmers and very productive members of that Wild West community. Of the members of that group that I, personally, know of included:

Farmers and ranchers throughout the areas in Northern Arkansas and Southwestern Missouri. One of which, because doctors and dentists wouldn’t treat them, pulled his own teeth with pliers. He also treated himself for gunshot wounds. When he needed to repair a fence he straightened the fingers of his hand that had been deformed by a gunshot but he needed to use it.

I have the flag that covered the casket of 2dLt. John Elgin Hughes, who was a pilot shot down over Italy in WW II.

Lt. Hughes’ brother, another uncle of mine, was a POW in France and was liberated during the D-Day invasion.

A cousin of theirs that died in a VA hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas because of what today would have been classified as PTSD. He was a bull dozer operator in WW II. His job was to dig and cover bodies for Graves Registration.

Two cousins of mine were soldiers in the Korean War. One was wounded and spent the remainder of his life with excruciating back pain.

As you can see: the Hollywood depiction of Native Americans is “just a little off”. I don’t believe any of this history will appear in the Common Core curricula.