Time to be an Indian Giver

Friday, February 11, 2005

According to Thomas Brown, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Lamar University, phony Indian Ward Churchill is apparently also a phony scholar! (Funny side note: I can name one more Indian ancestor than Churchill: a Cherokee Indian named Little Panther.) Via American Thinker, I learned of a draft of a paper questioning Churchill's claim that the American military used smallpox against a tribe of American Indians. From the abstract:

Did the U.S. military ever carry out a genocidal assault on American Indian peoples by means of biological warfare—i.e., distributing infected smallpox blankets? Few historians would dispute that during the Plains Indian wars, selected U.S. military forces did perpetuate massacres that can easily be construed as genocidal in intent. Furthermore, it is well-established that the British general Lord Amherst at least considered distributing smallpox-infected goods to Indians in 1763—with explicitly genocidal intent—and that his plan was carried out independently by his subordinates.

But did the U.S. military ever deploy smallpox blankets? Ward Churchill says they did. In a series of essays written during the 1990s, Churchill gradually elaborates his story of the origins of the smallpox epidemic that broke out on the northern plains in 1837, which probably killed at least 20 to 30,000 people. Churchill charges the U.S. Army with deliberately infecting the Mandan tribe with gifts of smallpox-laden blankets, withholding treatment, and thus causing an epidemic that Churchill says killed more than 125,000 people.

Ward Churchill’s habit of plagiarism and research fraud was well-documented by John Lavelle.[1] Churchill’s tale of the Mandan genocide is but one more example. The first goal of this article will be to set the historical record straight, by comparing Churchill’s deliberately falsified version of events against the evidence, and by attempting to determine the actual cause of the 1837 smallpox epidemic. More crucially, I want to examine the political and cultural influences that lead to frauds such as Churchill’s, and to ask why Churchill’s fantasies take root among scholars who should know better.

Somehow, this wouldn't surprise me too much if the charge turns out to be true. For the trifecta, let me add that the anti-Western philosophy that he's peddling to the Indians as their "advocate" will not lead to their betterment: Phony Indian, phony scholar, and phony advocate.

Ward Churchill: Maybe you can't be an Indian, but you can be an "Indian giver." In fact, it would be the honorable thing to do. Please take back your "gift" of slanderous charges against my country.

As angry as I was to hear what Ward Churchill was saying about the atrocities of September 11, 2001, I was ready to say, "Count me in with the 'Republicans for Ward Churchill'. He has freedom of speech, after all." But if this is true -- if Churchill published a lie as research, then he has earned forfeiture of tenure. Neither freedom of speech nor academic freedom includes freedom of deliberate fabrication.

-- CAV

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