We often hear about Manifest Destiny as part of our American Myth. Here is what Manifest Destiny meant to those actually practicing it in 1870: “The rich and beautiful valleys of Wyoming are destined for the occupancy and the sustenance of the Anglo-Saxon race. The wealth that for untold ages has lain hidden beneath the snow-capped summits of our mountains has been placed there by Providence to reward the brave spirits whose lot it is to compose the advance-guard of civilization. The Indians must stand aside or be overwhelmed by the ever advancing and ever increasing tide of emigration. The destiny of the aborigines is written in characters not to be mistaken. The same inscrutable Arbiter that decreed the downfall of Rome has pronounced the doom of extinction upon the red men of America.”
This was said by The Big Horn Association in 1870. This association was a group of white frontiersmen and miners. I got all of this from Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
While I was reading my brother called me upstairs to watch a scene from the TV show Deadwood. In the scene a U.S. Military leader is giving a speech to the town that is all about nobility and providence. It is basically a composite of all of the military and political speeches that we always here with some period details thrown in. While he is speaking a slightly deranged member of the audience is mumbling what really happened on their campaign. He is saying things like, “We ate our horses!”
Always be aware that the myths and stories that we tell ourselves are often ancient oceans apart from the reality that went on.