A new history of the Indian Wars of the late 19th century hit bookstores on Tuesday. The author set out to debunk myths about the settling of the American West. Historian and author of The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West, Peter Cozzens, said he wrote the book because he saw the need for an objective account of the Indian Wars.
“There has never been a major popular work on the Indian Wars that told the story in a balanced, even handed manner from both the Native American or Indian side and from the white side, equally,” Cozzens said.
Cozzens said even Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee was slanted toward a tribal perspective. He said he intended to write a compelling story that looked through both the eyes of the American Indians and the U.S. Army. And he added he tried to ask hard questions about the clash of cultures in the American West.
“The notion that the government somehow had a policy of physical genocide of exterminationism, that’s absolutely untrue,” Cozzens said. “The government never, ever, as a matter of policy, intended or desired to exterminate the Indians.”
Cozzens said while there were massacres, corrupt officials and institutional racism, the federal government’s ultimate goal was to contain and convert the tribes, not wipe them out.
Cozzens recently presented his research at the Buffalo Bill Center for the West in Cody.