The Tainted Gift
The Disease Method of Frontier Expansion
We live in an age when the threat of biological warfare is very real. But did the United States itself once use biological agents as weapons? That in essence is the charge of those who believe Federal forces deliberately exposed Native Americans to deadly diseases during the 18th- and 19th-century campaigns for Western expansion.
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||Race and Ethnicity/American Indian Studies
For the first time, an accomplished scholar offers a painstakingly researched examination of the United States' involvement in deliberate disease spreading among native peoples in the military conquest of the West.
The speculation that the United States did infect Indian populations has long been a source of both outrage and skepticism. Now there is an exhaustively researched exploration of an issue that continues to haunt U.S.-Native American relations.
Barbara Alice Mann's The Tainted Gift: The Disease Method of Frontier Expansion offers riveting accounts of four specific incidents: The 1763 smallpox epidemic among native peoples in Ohio during the French and Indian War; the cholera epidemic during the 1832 Choctaw removal; the 1837 outbreak of smallpox among the high plains peoples; and the alleged 1847 poisonings of the Cayuses in Oregon. Drawing on previously unavailable sources, Mann's work is the first to give one of the most controversial questions in U.S. history the rigorous scrutiny it requires.
- Chapters focusing on four charges of deliberate disease spreading among Native American peoples
- An extraordinary collection of primary and oral sources, including much that has only recently become available, that helps provide a clearer picture of the Federal campaigns for control of Western territories
- Examines in a scholarly, systematic way the charges that the United States purposely spread disease among Native Americans as a means of conquering territory
- Taps into previously unknown resources that, in many cases, clear up lingering points of dispute
- Discusses a long-running controversy in an honest, forthright way, that honors the desire to open candid discussions about the history of racism in the United States
- Author Info
"Seneca elder and activist in Ohio and Native American studies scholar Mann describes deliberately giving smallpox to the Ohio Indians in 1763, marching the Choctaws into a cholera plague zone during their already genocidal Removal in 1832, sending hemorrhagic smallpox to the High Plains peoples in 1837, and the poisoning of the Cayuses. There is no shortage of primary documentation and first-person testimony, she insists, no obscure gaps in knowledge, no tortured logical escape from the glaring evidence that Euro-American settlers and their military and government officials used germ warfare on Native Americans as part of their imperial expansion across the New World."
"In four fascinating, extremely detailed, and heavily cited chapters, Mann digs into this record to bring to light the shameful and even shocking methods used against Native Americans in the drive west. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."