HUMINT: Peace Medals

HUMINT: History matters. ARTICLE: For many decades before the American Revolution, the instruments of diplomacy that the rulers of civilized nations had relied on in dealing with the native occupants of the lands they claimed, were gifts of flags; printed certificates called commissions or paroles; clothing such as cloaks, blankets or military dress uniforms; engraved silver pipes and silver-headed canes; silver gorgets (small decorative breastplates); and medals. By far the most important were the medals, termed "peace medals" because the giving and the receiving of the token signified an understanding that the parties would maintain peaceable relationships with one another and with their neighbors, in the interest of fee and profitable--to the foreigners, at least — commerce. Indians also were led to believe that a medal was a guarantee of the giver's military support against their rivals and enemies. [snip] Lewis and Clark carried a total of at least eighty-nine peace medals in five different sizes:

3 large Jefferson medals about 105 mm in diameter

13 Jefferson medals about 75 mm in diameter

16 Jefferson medals about 55 mm in diameter

55 "season" medals, 45 mm in diameter

2 (or 4) "medals of the fifth size," of uncertain dimension

Alexander Henry the Younger, a fur trader with the Northwest Company, visited the Mandan and Hidatsa villages in late July of 1806, a few weeks before Lewis and Clark passed through on their way home, and recorded the Hidatsas' impressions of the Americans' diplomacy.

"In 1804–05, when Captains Lewis and Clark wintered near this place, they presented the people with silver medals and flags, the same as they gave to the Mandanes; but the Big Bellies [Hidatsas] pretended to say that these ornaments conveyed bad medicine to them and their children. They are exceedingly superstitious, and, therefore, supposed they could not better dispose of those articles than by giving them to the natives with whom they frequently warred, in hope the ill-luck would be conveyed to them. They were disgusted at the high-sounding language the American captains bestowed upon themselves and their own nation, wishing to impress the Indians with an idea that they were great warriors, and a powerful people who, if exasperated, could crush all the nations of the earth, etc."

All but one were more or less formally presented to Indians they met along the way, mainly to individuals who were apparently tribal leaders. When in doubt, the captains arbitrarily "made" chiefs, a practice that backfired when misjudgment resulted in intratribal jealousy, and once when they gave a medal to the Teton Sioux chief, Torto-hongar (the "Partisan") before they realized he was "a great scoundrel." A Cheyenne chief so honored by Clark on August 21, 1806, returned his medal with the explanation that "he was afraid of the midal or any thing that white people gave to them." Clark successfully prevailed, however, informing the reluctant Cheyenne that "this was the medecene which is Great father directed me to deliver to all the great Chiefs who listened to his word and followed his councils." Hidatsas were known to have given their medals to their enemies in the expectation that the bad medicine would fall upon them instead.

The first medals were given to Oto and Missouri leaders on August 3, 1804; the last, "a medal of the small kind," went to "a Chief of great note" among the Nez Perce (Ni-mee-poo) on May 11, 1806. Otherwise, the captains' record-keeping was generally haphazard and incomplete, and they gave no comprehensive report to the Secretary of War enumerating the chiefs they had made. Ironically, Lewis left a peace medal around the neck of the Piegan Indian whom Reuben Field killed in self defense beside the Two Medicine River in northwest Montana on July 17, 1806, so that the victim's tribesmen would know who was responsible. [snip] In 1829, while Clark was Indian Agent for Upper Louisiana, he and Lewis Cass, Governor of the Territory of Michigan, together recommended a policy for the distribution of medals and flags, to reaffirm traditional practice and avoid misuse by new government agents.
  1. They will be given to influential persons only.
  2. The largest medals will be given to the principal village chiefs, those of the second size will be given to the principal war chiefs, and those of the third size will be given to the less distinguished chiefs and warriors.
  3. They will be presented with the proper formalities, and with an appropriate speech, so as to produce a proper impression upon the Indians.
  4. It is not intended that chiefs should be appointed by any officer of the department, but that they should confer these badges of authority upon such as selected or recognized by the tribe, and as are worthy of them, in the manner heretofore practiced.
  5. Whenever a foreign medal is worn, it will be replaced by an American medal, if the Agent should consider the person entitled to a medal.

Obviously, Clark had learned some lessons from his experience of twenty-five years before.

Labels: , , , , ,




  • HUMINT: Peace Medals

    01.90   06.90   09.90   01.91   05.91   09.94   08.95   01.97   09.97   08.98   11.99   01.00   05.00   07.00   03.01   09.01   01.03   03.03   05.03   06.03   07.03   09.03   10.03   11.03   03.04   05.04   06.04   07.04   09.04   10.04   11.04   12.04   01.05   02.05   03.05   04.05   05.05   06.05   07.05   08.05   09.05   10.05   11.05   12.05   01.06   02.06   03.06   04.06   05.06   06.06   07.06   08.06   09.06   10.06   11.06   12.06   01.07   02.07   03.07   04.07   05.07   06.07   07.07   08.07   09.07   10.07   11.07   12.07   01.08   06.08   09.08  


  • Best of Google Vid
  • Iraqhurr Radio Free Iraq
  • Kurdistan TV
  • RFE Radio Liberty
  • Radio Free Iraq
  • 1st Headlines
  • Al Bab
  • Al Bawaba - ARABIC
  • Al Bawaba - ENGLISH
  • Al Iraqi
  • Aswat al Iraq - ARABIC
  • Aswat al Iraq - ENGLISH
  • Aswat al Iraq - KURDISH
  • Big News Network
  • EIN News
  • Electronic Iraq
  • Inside Iraq
  • Iraq Crisis Bulletin
  • Iraq Daily
  • Iraq Economy
  • Iraq Energy
  • Iraq Journal
  • Iraq Net
  • Iraq Photos
  • Iraq Sport
  • Iraq Updates
  • Iraqi News
  • Iraqi Papers
  • Moreover
  • One World
  • RUSI
  • Sotal Iraq
  • Topix
  • Yahoo
  • Zawya
  • Baghdad Bulletin
  • Economist
  • Az Zaman - ENGLISH
  • Iraq Today
  • Guardian
  • Al Mannarah
  • Al Ahali
  • Al Fourat
  • Al Itijah Al Akhar
  • Al Ittihad
  • Al Sabah
  • Al Tariq
  • Alef Yaa
  • Baghdad
  • Baghdad
  • Iraq Today
  • Radio Dijla
  • humint

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?