The Life of George Bent The Life of George Bent by George E. Hyde is a very interesting and informative book. This book is basically a chronological story of George bents life as a half white, half Indian and all the experiences he had. The Bent family plaid a large role in the development of the west. There are many historic events, however, what I feel is the most important of these episodes, to Colorado history is the Sand Creek Massacre. I personally, have mixed reviews on the book, its narrative style, and the events, which it states. The Bent family played a very significant role in the development of Colorado.
William Bent, his father, opened up Bents Fort for trading purposes. The fort was one of a kind at the time. Bents Fort was a permanent post, as opposed to a temporary post or holding a rendezvous to trade goods. Bents Fort was on the upper Arkansas River in the southeastern part of Colorado. Here he began a relationship with the Indians that would last very long. William Bent met owl women and had multiple children.
Owl women was a daughter of White Thunder a very prominent chief in the Cheyenne tribe. White Thunder was the keeper of the medicine arrows, this was a very sacred position among the Cheyenne people. George Bent grew up as a Cheyenne, but was later sent to St. Louis, Missouri by his father. George had strong ties to his Indian heritage and after ten years would return to help in their fight for survival. Years after returning George would marry Magpie, black kettles niece. He lived the life of Plains Indian for many years.
He was a part of the Crooked Lance war Society and would fight in several battles with the Cheyenne and the Arapaho. There were many confrontations, but perhaps one is more significant than the rest. In the fall of 1864, the U.S. committed, in my opinion, on of the worst acts that our government has ever done to any society. Even more relevant is th fact that this tragedy happened on Colorado land. The commander in charge told Black Kettle and some other chiefs that peace talks were in process and that they should stay near the fort and wait for further word. Black Kettle, a Cheyenne chief, convinced many tribes from the Sioux, Arapaho, and Cheyenne, to come stay near fort Lyon, old Bents Fort.
Black Kettle really believed that there would be peace negotiations to follow. He would have never put his people in such a bad predicament, as they would soon find out. Colonel Chivington had no intentions of any negotiations, what so ever. Colonel Chivington brought with him an army of around fourteen hundred men with plans of ambushing the Indians at Sand Creek. Major Anthony, second in command, wrote on November on November 28, 1864 I believe the Indians will be properly punished (hyde: 149) This was an understatement.
The Indians were caught completely by surprise. Thousands of Indians would be killed at this brutal attack. There were no words spoken just guns fired. Black Kettle tried to convince the people not to run and not to be frightened. He stood in front of his tent holding a white flag, waiving it back and forth. The cavalry did not care, they plundered the village for every thing that they had, in between the slaying of the Indian people.
The Indians were not prepared for any kind of war. The troops were equipped with a larger variety of weapons, they had more ammunition, they were more people, and they were well prepared for the killing. The Indians did not have a chance. This was the worst slaughtering of the Native American race, ever.
The Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho lost almost half of their families. George Bent wrote these stories with such drama and accuracy. This allowed me to visualize the Indians life style much more clearly. Many books, reports, or other facts that I have read about Indians were from a white mans perspective. It is nice to get to hear the other side of the story.
It is a well-known fact that the white man started driving the Indians from land to land, but I really got a good impression of how Indians were treated back then. Bents writing makes me feel for the Indians and the strife they continued to go through. From my understanding this book written by George Bent and George E. Hyde puts some footnotes, from previous letter between the two. This is were I have a few questions.
I thought some of the inserts that Hyde put in were very important. Such things as verifying names, dates and places. This is the part of the narrative I found to be insightful. I have no problems with this, but some of the comments had no relevance and were just random thoughts.
I felt that some of the footnotes were misplaced, or held no meaning to what was being discussed. Some of the endnotes had no comments, just a page number of initials. Another problem I have with this book is the ending. There is no closure, rather an unfinished story.
If it is the life of George Bent, why dont they discuss his death of life after the adobe walls raid This I found to be trivial. Being from Colorado I found it very interesting to find out how a place got its name, or how there are links from old Indian names to local towns, rivers, mountains or other surrounding areas. The Bent family was unique and very much a part of Colorado. George 3 Bent does a good job of narrating the events, and with surprising accuracy. Bent lived a wild and dangerous life, and a good part of his life was spent along the Rocky Mountains.
He lived as a citizen of the white world and was a warrior in the Cheyenne society. In both aspects he helped develop and was a big part in the evolution of Colorado History.