Native American Events in the 1800’s Possibly Wrongly Reported By Christine Eskra
government can restrain them in it. They are as wayward as children, and as easily spoiled if not as easily controlled.” This seems like rather a big statement to come from a newspaper. This is something one would expect from a lecturer, or article written by someone knowledgeable of the subject. There is no author mentioned, so it’s questionable who is giving their analysis of the situation. This situation appears often in Pictured at left is a supposed portrait of a Pawnee warrior in the 1800’s old articles. During this time named Taka Uhsah, On the right is Dawna Hare, a modern day Chief Experiod, newspapers mostly ecutive Director of the Pawnee Nation. (kshs.org, pawneenation.org) reported about 3 things relating to Na Pawnee warrior Taka Uhsah and tive Americans; daily tribal life, wars beDawna Hare may have the same ancestween tribes, and conflicts/treaties betors but the times in which they both lived tween tribes and emigrants or “white men”. are over 100 years apart, and thus not only A New York Daily Times article from were the issues they faced different, but the 1853 (fig.2), reports about results from a Pawway they and their tribe were represented nee vs. Sioux battle. What is a bit disturbing in newspapers is also very different. Newsabout this article is the source note at the end. papers of the 1800’s had a different style of It is often difficult to find the author or their reporting. Now everything must be politisources in these old articles. But this article cally correct, and the journalist is expected states it at the bottom as being from Pawnees to report just the facts and not their perat Fort Kearney where they went to “exhibit sonal opinions. A Journalist is a “medium”, their trophies.” While this is an improvement meaning someone who takes information on many articles which have no source, it’s from a source, organizes and rewrites it in a hard to know how accurate it is. It was told way easily understandable to a mass audiby a winning group who came to the Fort to ence. But where is the line between reportshow off their victory so its very possible that ing and persuading? In the 1800’s it seems while the basic facts are probably right, some this line was much further left than now. parts of the article are exaggerated in the fa An article about the plains wars vor of making the winning tribe (the Pawnee) from the New York Daily Times in 1851 look tougher. The Pawnee may have been on (fig.1) is an example of how journalists at friendly terms with the Fort but they are still the time freely inserted personal opinions foreigners to the whites and both sides were into their articles. The author says “There walking on egg shells to keep their peace. It are numerous reports of their insolence too, would make perfect sense if the Pawnee exagand outrages on, emigrants, and I have no gerated their victory to show a possible enemy doubt that, until they are severely flogged (the emigrants at the fort) not to mess with by the United States troops, they will not them. So while it’s good that this article has behave themselves” And “…I doubt very a source, it’s still a much less reliable source much if any treaty or influence of the than if the writer was out interviewing sev-
eral individuals on both sides or watched these events take place himself, which is the standard of modern-day reporting. The methods of reporting for the 1800’S and modern times are very different, so are the issues being reported, and the expectations of a reporter. This makes it difficult to know if old articles are entirely factual and truthful. At the time did the people trust more in the knowledge of reporters? Or were they less educated and unable to make their own analysis of the news so needed to be “educated” by the newspapers? If the latter is the case, its easier to understand why it took so long for changes in civil rights and racial equality to happen in the past. If people were told how to think from media as common as a newspaper, of course the mass society will believe and agree on it. Even though media persuasion happens now, it’s to a lesser degree, and less obvious. People are more skeptical about news and are not afraid to question the media, than in the past where reporters seemed to have more authority.