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Apologies to the Nez Percé

In response to:

The Magic of Crazy Horse from the February 24, 2011 issue

To the Editors:

You owe a correction concerning Ian Frazier’s reference to the Nez Percé leaving their reservation in his review of Thomas Powers’s The Killing of Crazy Horse [NYR, February 24]. The Nez Percé accepted and admired the white man’s ways; they converted to Christianity. But white Americans coveted their land because it was rich and appealed to Washington. The Nez Percé were ordered off it by the US Cavalry and sent to a reservation where the land was poor.

Ian Frazier is right to say they left their reservation but I think the reader is entitled to the background. Many of them declined this unjust exchange and fought. The Nez Percé—some of them—fled to Canada because, as Sitting Bull had learned, Indian peoples were treated the same as whites there. They had rights—in the US the Indians had no rights.

John Brinckman
Toronto, Canada

Ian Frazier replies:

Mr. Brinckman is correct in saying that the Nez Percé did not escape their reservation. In the 1870s a group of Nez Percé resisted the theft of lands where they had been living for years. In 1877, when the army tried to force them onto an already-existing Nez Percé reservation, the Nez Percé War ensued. Sitting Bull was able to stay in Canada because the Canadian government accepted peaceful coexistence with his band; at that time in the US, all Indians had to move to reservations, or else. Congress granted citizenship to all Indians in 1924.

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