Sunday, May 25, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend's Sunday Thinking About A Proper Historical Memory Marker For The Caddo Indians Of Arlington's Village Creek

I had intended to roll my bike's wheels over Gateway Park's mountain bike trails today.

However, my intention was un-intentionally altered when I discovered rain had come to earth at my location on the planet at some point in time during the night.

Rain has a tendency to render dirt into mud on mountain bike trails. I am not a fan of rolling my wheels over mud. It can get messy.

So, I decided to head east instead of west, to a place where I can roll my bike's wheels with the Indian Ghosts who haunt Arlington's Village Creek Natural Historical Area.

Visiting Arlington's Indian Ghosts has become very popular on Saturday and Sunday. Today the parking lot was the closest to being full I have ever seen it.

In the picture above my handlebars are not in the Village Creek Natural Historical Area looking at a historical marker. My handlebars are a few feet off the Bob Findlay Linear Park looking at a historical marker.

This particular historical marker tells the tale of why this location is haunted by Indian Ghosts, with this tale told from the Texan white man perspective, not the Native American perspective. Or a balanced perspective.

Years ago, way back in the last century, a short time after I'd read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, I was heading to Reno with a stop at Lava Beds National Monument on the way. The Lava Beds are in Northern California, a maze of lava tubes and caves. It is the location of Captain Jack's Stronghold.

Captain Jack and his band of Modocs caught the world's attention when they successfully defended their position in the Lava Beds from United States Army forces sent to capture  them.

At the turn off from the main highway, on to the road which takes you to the Lava Beds, there is an old historical marker, erected closer in time to the 1872-73 period of the Modoc War, than the present time. That historical marker tells the story of the Modoc War and Captain Jack from the white man's perspective. As in, I was sort of appalled at how slanted and biased that historical marker was.

However, inside the Lava Beds National Monument the history of the Modoc War and Captain Jack is told in the same enlightened way it was told in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Which brings me back to the historical marker you see above, located near where John B. Denton was killed during the Battle of Village Creek.

A  couple blurbs from the Battle of Village Creek historical marker....

"General Tarrant, for whom the County was later  named, led 69 Volunteers from settlements  near the Red River in an early morning attack on the villages of the Caddo and other tribes which were located along Village Creek."

Okay, digest the above paragraph and then read this sentence...

"Soon after entering the creek, they were ambushed and Denton was killed."

So, General Tarrant invaded from the north, deep into the Caddo Confederacy, in an early morning sneak attack on multiple villages, during which John B. Denton was killed by Caddo Indians defending their villages.

How can Denton's death be characterized as an "ambush" after he helped attack the Caddo villages which then resulted in Denton being killed? That'd be like the Japanese claiming one of their planes was shot down in an ambush by Americans on December 7, 1941, during the Japanese Sneak Attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Caddo Confederacy villages along Village Creek were in existence back when the Spanish first arrived in 1542. In other words, those villages had been the Caddo home for a long time. The Caddo Confederacy was mostly a peaceful, agrarian group of tribes. They were not warmongers like the Comanche.

I suspect a historically accurate Battle of Village Creek historical  marker would be something like this....

Acting on faulty intelligence that blamed Caddo Indians in the Village Creek area for attacks on settlers along the Red River, General Tarrant led a group of settlers in a sneak attack on peaceful Caddo villages, killing untold men, women and children. The Caddo fought back as best they could, killing several of the attacking invaders. 

However, the devastation to the Caddo villages, caused by General Tarrant and his army, was so great that the Caddo abandoned the villages they had inhabited for centuries.

Attacking innocents based on faulty intelligence happens in modern times, even with all our modern information gathering and communication ability.

I imagine it was rather easy to whip the Red River settlers into a frenzy after some violent Comanche attacks. I also imagine it was likely an easy sell to convince the revenge seekers to attack villages of friendly Indians, who were basically farmers, rather than go after the Comanche, who were a fierce force with which to reckon...

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