Best Defense

You want ‘whole of government’? How about using your enemy to send a message across the U.S. government?

In 1877, General Crook, commanding in the Sioux War, was tired of the U.S. government breaking its promises to Indian tribes.

Spotted_Tail

 

In 1877, General Crook, commanding in the Sioux War, was tired of the U.S. government breaking its promises to Indian tribes. So he sent a message to one peaceful chief, Spotted Tail, advising him to threaten an incoming representative of the Indian Bureau.

The chief did so gleefully, greeting the delegation with a group of Indian warriors painted for war. When the official tried to persuade Spotted Tail to move eastward to a reservation on the Missouri, the chief roared back, “I have made many treaties with men who came from Washington. Never has one of these been kept. All the men from Washington are liars, but the worst liars among them are the bald-headed ones! This last treaty must be kept!” If the government didn’t come through, he added, “I shall turn my young men loose, and they will make a desert of all the country between here and the Platte.”

Spotted Tail got his western reservation.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1
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