Social History for Every Classroom


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A North Dakota Newspaper Proposes War Against Native Americans

White settlers found all sorts of ways to defend the destruction of Native American communities. The Manifest Destiny ideology held that Americans' westward march was sanctioned by God. Social Darwinists adopted the idea of "survival of the fittest," suggesting a natural an inevitable order to the destruction of one race and the ascendancy of another. Less than a month after this editorial was published, George Armstrong Custer departed Bismarck on the Black Hills Expedition, onto what had been treaty-protected Indian lands. Custer's men were primarily interested in finding out whether rumors of gold in the hills were true.

This is God's country... He peopled it with red men and planted it with wild grasses and permitted the white man to gain a foothold; and as the wild grasses disappear when the white clover gains a footing, so the Indian disappears before the advance of the white man.  

Humanitarians may weep for poor Lo, and tell of the wrongs he has suffered, but he is passing away.  Their prayers, their entreaties, cannot change the law of nature; cannot arrest the causes which are carrying them to their ultimate destiny--extinction.  

The American people need the country the Indians now occupy; many of our people are out of employment; the masses need some new excitement...  An Indian war would do no harm for it must come sooner or later.  

Source | Bismarck Tribune, 17 June 1874; quoted in American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning, "The Iron Horse vs. the Buffalo: Indian-Settler Conflict on the Great Plains: 1869-90," (Teacher's Handbook). Also available at Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, The Library of Congress.
Creator | Bismarck Tribune
Item Type | Newspaper/Magazine
Cite This document | Bismarck Tribune, “A North Dakota Newspaper Proposes War Against Native Americans,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed March 26, 2023,

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