None of the sources that Churchill cites make any mention of “a military infirmary…quarantined for smallpox.” None of the sources Churchill cites make any mention of U.S. Army soldiers even being in the area of the pandemic, much less being involved with it in any way. Churchill’s own sources make it clear that Fort Clark was not an Army garrison. It was a remote trading outpost that was privately owned and built by the American Fur Company, and manned by a handful of white traders. It was not an Army fort, nor did it contain soldiers. Not being an Army fort, it did not contain a “post surgeon” who told Indians to “scatter” and spread the disease. Churchill’s own sources make all of this abundantly clear.Read the rest. It would seem to me that this provides an easy out for the University of Colorado. They do not want to fire the guy for what he said. Such an action would violate the principle of tenure that professors hold so dear. (personal confession: my husband is a tenured professor, so I won't have anything bad to say about the tenure system.) However, a professor who misuses historical sources and has even perhaps plagiarized has broken the rules of academic research and so can be fired after a proper investigation into his research. That would be the proper path for the UC regents to investigate.
According to Churchill’s own sources, the only government employee present anywhere in the region was the local Indian Agent, who according to eyewitnesses did not distribute blankets or anything else at the time of the pandemic, “as he has nothing to give his red children.” The government agent functioned to serve the interests of the trading company, and had no independent incentive to infect the Indians.
Journals and letters written by the fur traders who did man Fort Clark make it clear that they were appalled by the epidemic, in part because they had Indian wives and children and were thus a part of the Indian community. The traders also had economic interests in keeping the Indians healthy. The trader Jacob Halsey—who himself contracted the smallpox—lamented that “the loss to the company by the introduction of this malady will be immense in fact incalculable as our most profitable Indians have died.” Obviously the traders had no incentive to wage biological warfare on their own families and their “most profitable Indians”, much less put their own lives at risk.
Churchill claims that vaccine was deliberately withheld by “the army”, but this is once again pure fabrication on Churchill’s part. The very source that Churchill cites in support of this fabrication contradicts him, describing how “great care was exercised in the attempt to eliminate the transfer of the smallpox” by the traders, and how “a physician was dispatched for the sole purpose of vaccinating the affected tribes while the pestilence was at its height.”
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
A professor at Lamar University exposes the shody, mendacious research that Ward Churchill has done alleging that the American military deliberately gave smallpox-infected blankets to the Mandan Indians in the 1830's.
Posted by Betsy Newmark at 6:37 PM