Tag Archives: apology to native americans

The 1756 Scalp Act

Warren Petoskey, Odawa/Lakota Elder

Warren Petoskey, Odawa/Lakota Elder

Warren Petoskey, an Odawa/Lakota Elder, and good friend of mine, shared this post on Facebook today.


This Date in Native History: On April 8, 1756, “The 1756 Scalp Act was the result of close to 40 years of the Penn family lying to Delaware and Shawnees,” Pennsylvania Historian Norman Houser said. The act legalized the taking of scalps for money, paid by the Pennsylvania government. The Scalp Act passed as a means to get rid of the Delaware once and for all.

By the 1700s, the times were changing, unpredictably and rapidly, for the peoples who lived along the Susquehanna River. The area was named De La Warr by the Dutch and the people known as the Lenape became the Delaware Tribe, reported Brice Obermeyer, director of the Delaware Tribe Office.

“Through the treaties, displaced people were forced into villages where others were speaking similar languages. There they developed into a political organization, moving into territory that was claimed by Iroquois, who had a close affiliation with British.”

When William Penn arrived in 1682, he developed a respectful relationship with all of the local tribes. But after his death, “The Penn Family changed from ‘Let’s work with the Natives’ to ‘This land is ours; now get off of it,’” Houser said.

Houser said there were three treaties that led to the Scalp Act. The Treaty of 1732 removed the Shawnee from the Susquehanna River Valley. “The Shawnee had no say in it,” Houser said. “The treaty was between the Penn family and the Iroquois.”

The Treaty of 1736 was between the colony of Pennsylvania and the Iroquois. “The most significant aspect of the treaty was that this was the first time on record that the Delaware nations had no legal rights to the land. The Six Nations claimed it was theirs,” Christian House Of Prayer said.

When William Penn bought lands from the Delaware, he purchased all of the rights but allowed the Delaware’s to stay on the land. In September 1737, Thomas Penn, William’s son, told the Delaware nations there was a deed for land sold to his father. He produced a forged document that included the names of Indians who had already passed on. Though no elders could remember such a deed, Penn convinced the Delaware to set up an event where they would walk together to map out land. The story is detailed in Publications of the Historical Society of Schuylkill County, Volume 3.

It was called the “Walking Purchase.” On the first day, two colonists walked along with two Indians at a leisurely pace, stopping from time to time for bread, cheese, and wine. They retired at sunset. The next morning, new walkers arrived and little by little, the two Indians and one colonist dropped out from the pace. The last man, a colonist, ran rather than walked, doubling the amount of land the Indians had planned to release.

Teedyuscumg, a Delaware chief, complained to the governors until he was allowed to speak at a treaty meeting in November 1756. “This very ground that is under me was my land and inheritance taken from me by fraud… the same thing was done to me in New Jersey over the river,”

Teedyuscumg said according to Publications of the Historical Society of Schuylkill.

Teedyuscumg said he always honored his agreements no matter how shoddy the gifts of payment were and that while the Indians had been more than fair in their pricing of the land, “now, at length, you will not allow us to cut a little wood to make a fire, nay, hinder us from hunting, the only means left us of getting a livelihood.”

In Benjamin Franklin’s book, Indian Treaties, Franklin wrote that the “Walking Purchase” had a direct relationship to the warfare of 1755 to 1756. “Scarouady, chief of the Oneida, made a final appeal to the Pennsylvania government to support the western Indians against the French. He came as a proud warrior, representing the Shawnee and the Delawares… His address was made in the State House, before the governor, the council, the assembly, and a large audience… it was in a sense the Declaration of Independence of the Delawares.”

To the assembly Scarouady said: “We do, therefore, once more invite and request you to act like men, and be no longer… pursuing weak measures, that render your names despicable.” To Governor Morris, he said: ‘One word of yours will bring the Delawares to join you.’ That word was not given.”

The exiled tribes allied themselves with the French and began to take revenge. On July 9, 1755, about 10 miles from Fort DuQuesne, in present day Pittsburgh, “there was a lot of bloodshed,” reported Houser, who said it was the Delaware’s first victory. “They became emboldened and thought that if they could defeat this group, maybe they could push the English off the frontier and gain back the land.”

By 1755, “In these conflicts, there were Indians fighting on both sides,” Obermeyer said. “In some cases, people were massacring tribal members. It was such a complicated time period that to say it was all Europeans, was just not the case. They intermarried. Some fought the British, some fought the Americans, and some were just trying to survive.

“It was literally a civil war and people had to make choices that were sometimes based on economics,” Obermeyer said.

By December 1755, there were so many minor attacks that the settlers on the frontier appealed to the Pennsylvania legislature, which set aside $60,000 for forts, Houser said. Instead, the money was set up as a fund to remove the Indians from the border.

On April 8, 1756, Governor Robert Morris enacted the Scalp Act. Anyone who brought in a male scalp above age of 12 would be given 150 pieces of eight, (copy50), for females above age of 12 or males under the age of 12, they would be paid copy30.

The Wooden Indian act turned all the tribes against the Pennsylvania legislature. “This was the turning point for the Delawares,” Houser said. The Scalp Act was renewed in 1757, and the battle with the Delaware lasted until September 1756.

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Posted by on April 8, 2014 in Author's Updates


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The Fruit of Repentance


Fruit of Repentance by Ramone Ramero

I am sharing this blogpost with permission from my new friend Ramone Romero, who lives in Japan. His prophetic art and words stir my heart toward the heart of Jesus. You can link to his blog-site Weeping Jeremiahs by clicking on the painting. –Terry M. Wildman

Here is his blog post…

A few weeks ago God gave me a dream at night:

I was in Native American lands. I was in the midst of a forest area, which was dry and like in winter-time. The trees were tall, grey, and had no branches or leaves. It was near to night.

I stopped at a wooden building that was like a shop for Native American souvenirs. The room was empty, however. While there I wanted to meet with the tribal elders. They came in and stood as if in a somewhat semi-circle line, facing me. I was drawn to them in my heart, and they gave their hearts to me and offered to include me in the tribe.

Then I had to go, but I would come back. My heart filled with love for them, and I wanted to come back to them. They had honored me with their love, and I wanted to honor them and love them back.

I was deeply moved by the dream, but didn’t write it down until a few weeks later when God reminded me of it. Again my heart was deeply stirred, so I prayed and asked God what it meant:

“The night is near for America; many who profess My name are as dead trees, as branches that have been removed because they do not abide in My love. Many are seeking ‘revival’ and practice ‘identificational repentance’ for the sake of land, but turn away from practicing My love.

I am sending My servants to repent to Native Americans for the way My people have treated them. Many have visited Native Americans in recent years to repent for past atrocities, but have then left instead of continuing relationship and becoming family with them. Many have repented only for the sake of ‘cleansing the land’ and ‘to bring revival,’ but have not stood with Native Americans in their needs, their troubles, and in their struggle to secure justice in America. In My name, many Christians have come to the house of prayer only for souvenirs – just to ‘get something’ from Natives and then leave them as abandoned and neglected as before.

Do not treat My beloved children as souvenirs!
Do not speak My name to them without giving My love to them!
Abide in My love for them: abide with them!”

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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Author's Updates


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Out of Respect, Apology Not Accepted

Mark Charles, Navajo

Mark Charles, Navajo

On December 19, 2009 the United States apologized to its Native Peoples—but no one heard it.

Over three hundred million US citizens were apologized for, and don’t even know it.

Nearly five million Native Americans were apologized to, yet only a handful are aware of it.

December 19, 2012 marked the third anniversary of an an “Apology to Native Peoples of the United States” signed by President Obama on December 19, 2009. Among the ironies of this apology, is the fact that it was burried in the US Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 3326; and the fact that it was never announced, publicized or read publicly by either the White House or the 111th Congress.

On this third anniversary I (Terry Wildman) had the privilege, along with a diverse group of citizens, of participating in a public reading of this apology in front of the US Capitol in Washington DC.

This event was hosted by Mark Charles who lives on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Ft. Defiance Arizona, the son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man. He is a speaker, writer, and consultant, who has been on a journey seeking to understand the complexities of our country’s history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the Nation.

During the gathering he stated, “Reconciliation is never easy, which is why it probably doesn’t happen very much. Reconciliation is not an event encapsulated in a moment of time, its not something you can check off your to-do list; reconciliation starts with a conversation and it ends with a relationship restored.”

“Everybody at some point” he added, “understands the value of a sincere and well timed apology.”

He explained the reason for this gathering, “I felt like every Native person deserved two things, they deserved to know that this apology existed, and they deserved to hear it read from the seat of power of our country.”

I joined with several Native Americans as we read portions of the Defense Appropriations Bill to highlight the irony of such important words being burried in an unrelated document.

Then Mark read the apology, found in section 8113 on page 45, in English, followed in the Annishinabe language by Jim Thorpe, Ojibwe. Ben Stoner, a non-native who has lived among the Navajo for 40 years, read the apology section in the Navajo language.

After this Mark Charles said “I have deep respect for Governor Brownback who spent four years of his time in the Senate … working on this apology and trying to get … substantial language included into a bill that stood on its own, but he was unable to do it … attempt after attempt was turned back … and finally he did what I was told they used to do to get treaties passed … he inserted it into an appropriations bill because it was less likely someone would vote against it.”

All this added up to a conclusion by Mark Charles, “I take all of these things as evidence that our Country was not ready to apologize. An applogy should be sincere, it should be from your heart, and should include some act of repentance or commitment to change … I don’t think this apology does that.”

He then offered this request, spoken with humility and authority,  “Today as a Navajo man standing before you, I want to encourage our Native peoples, to not accept this apology. Not out of bitterness, not out of anger, not out of resentment. But out of respect for ourselves, out of respect for Governor Brownback, out of respect for President Obama, and out of respect for our Nation.

He finished with this thought, “Native peoples deserve a better apology than the one found in the 2010 Department of Defense Appropriations Act. And Governer Brownback and President Obama deserve the respect, to be given an opportunity to make another apology, one that is more sincere.”

After this and other relevant remarks Mark opened the microphone to others.

I took this opportunity to address the churches of America, the decendants of those believers who, through mission and church organizations, often cooperated with the Government in ways that oppressed Native Peoples. It was their often silent and sometimes verbal consent that emboldened the US Government in its ill conceived policies and practices.

How can we say we are reconciled to God if we haven’t done all that we can to reconcile with our Native Peoples?

Lets break with the past, enter into this conversation, and make a concerted effort to restore relationships.

After all, it is Jesus who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God” Matthew 5:9.

Shouldn’t his followers be leading the way?

It was an honor to stand with Mark Charles and help communicate this important message to our Native communities and to all the citizens of the United States. Miigwech Bizandowiyeg (thank you for listening).

Mark Charles: You can watch this entire event on YouTube CLICK HERE 

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Posted by on December 29, 2012 in Author's Updates


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