Repost from the old site. Oh, how the American Indians love this story! I’ve heard it endlessly. Did you know that the US gave these evil blankets to Indians all over the country, even here in California? Or Hudson Bay traders gave them to Indians in Canada? That those blankets wiped out “generations” of Indians? That the US gave them out to reservation Indians in the 1800’s? That Puritans gave out the blankets to Massachusetts Indians? Neither did I. Ward Churchill said the US Army gave Indians them diseased blankets. He lied, and he should have known better. It’s always nice to track down a myth, or is it really a myth? So let’s track it down. Turns out, Americans never gave smallpox blankets to any Indians anywhere at anytime. Not the government, not the Army, not anyone. So we are absolved on that one. The incident in question occurred in 1763, before there even was a USA, before there even were Americans. And American colonists (pre-Americans) didn’t do it either. It was the British that done the deed, and the one man who is always accused of doing it never even did it. Further, it was in the midst of a horrible and genocidal war (on both sides) called French and Indian War, with which the rebellion is often incorrectly associated. In the aftermath of that war, the area which had been ruled by the French was now ruled by the British. And the Indians, far from reflexively hating every White man around, had previously adjusted well to French rule and were angry about now being ruled by the British. The Indians hated the deal they were getting from the British, who were sawed-off shotgun-type muskets so they could hide them under their blankets. The Indians were horrible and vicious in the course of this war, and the British were too. But it was the British who were really getting pounded. Whole forts were being overwhelmed by 300-strong Indian armies, and after the storming, the Indians would kill everyone in the place, soldiers, women, kids, anyone. The Indians were raiding towns, settlements and schools and killing every White they could find. These were some of the most hard-ass Indians in the history of the Indian Wars. Further, the Indians actually made an alliance of many tribes living in the area during this war, which is incredible, since the Indians usually hated their neighbors so much they would not even ally with them to fight the Whites. In the course of the Pontiac Rebellion, a famous British general named Lord Jeffrey Amherst wrote a letter to his subordinate among the besieged British troops in one of the forts suggesting that they give the Indians smallpox-infected blankets. Turns out that this 5 Another example of a big fat myth/legend/historical incident, that, once you cut it open – well, there’s nothing much there. The tactics in this war were downright terrifying. At one point the city of Detroit itself was contribution to support the continuation of the site.
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