“Such a conflation created a two-race system–whites and ‘others.'” (Deutsch)

When Harjo and his fellow Snakes returned gunfire, two men, including the son of the sheriff, died in the battle. The white newspapers had a field day, vastly inflating the numbers killed and declaring “WAR WITH SNAKES.” Posses roamed the countryside arresting Indians and blacks. They burned Harjo’s house and looted others, under the guise of putting down a rebellion. White papers demanded “protection and Indian suppression”; the mayor of Henryetta declared, “The Snake Indians and the negroes affiliated with them are a menace to the country and should be captured.”[46] The local federal Indian agent maintained that Harjo would have to admit that “this was going to be a white man’s country.”[47]

The white posse and its allies had strategically conflated freedmen from everywhere, blacks of all sorts, and Creek resisters. Such a conflation created a two-race system–whites and “others.” In this case, “blacks” (unlike in the state’s constitution) became “Indians.” Engaging the script of the Anglo western conquest allowed these whites to pose the eradication of a black settlement as a final Indian engagement, a legitimized whitening of the West against a known external enemy.

Sarah Deutsch, "Being American in Boley, Oklahoma," in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, ed. Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 97-122 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 204) Deutsch, Sarah. “Being American in Boley, Oklahoma,” in Beyond Black and White: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the U.S. South and Southwest, edited by Stephanie Cole and Alison M. Parker, 97-122. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004., 113.
  1. [46]Quoted in Littlefield and Underhill, “The ‘Crazy Snake Uprising,'” pp. 323-24.
  2. [47]Kelsey quoted in Kenneth Waldo McIntosh, “Chitto Harjo, The Crazy Snakes and the Birth of Indian Political Activism in the Twentieth Century” (Ph.D. dissertation, Texas Christian University, 1993), p. 136. The troops never found Harjo, who had sought refuge among the Choctaw Snakes and died in 1911.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *