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American Indian Day features by ES Watson

"What started at the turn of the century as an effort to gain a day of recognition for the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S., has resulted in a whole month being designated for that purpose...Several states celebrate the fourth Friday in September. In Illinois, for example, legislators enacted such a day in 1919. Read more: American Indian Heritage Month Origins —

Born in Illinois and a resident of that state for most of his life, in the course of his long feature writing career, a number of Indian-Day inspired articles were published in the month September.

Indeed, as concerns the Native American influence, as a frontier historian journalist, Watson cut his early historical feature writing teeth by penning his first short vignette series entitled - Stories of Great Scouts and Great Indians

For the story behind the story of this series [discussed below] see Miranda Brady's singular research article, "Stories of Great Indians” by Elmo Scott Watson: Syndication, Standardization, and the Noble Savage in Feature Writing

also published in American Indians and the Mass Media, Chapter 2, "Stories of Great Indians" by Elmo Scott Watson: Syndication, Standardization and the Noble Savage in Feature Writing, by Miranda J. Brady,
Meta G. Carstarphen, John P. Sanchez
University of Oklahoma Press, Oct 1, 2012

(In Tales of the Old Frontier, Indians would, of course, similarly play their appropriate prominent role in the adventures described.)

The following Utah Digital Newspaper links provide the gateway to readable and printable pdfs of the following ES Watson features selected from his old September targated observances of American Indian Day:

Sitting Bull
Garfield County 1927-09-16 Tatanka Yotanka
Iron County Record 1927-09-09 Tatanka Yotanka
Piute County 1927-09-16 Tatanka Yotanka

Iron County Record 1929-09-04 Memorials to a Vanished Race
Millard County Progress 1929-09-06 Memorials to a Vanished Race
Murray Eagle 1929-09-05 Memorials to a Vanished Race

Crazy Horse
Davis County Clipper 1934-09-07 Crazy Horse, Fighting Chief of the Sioux
Iron County Record 1934-09-06 Crazy Horse, Fighting Chief of the Sioux
Parowan Times 1934-09-07 Crazy Horse, Fighting Chief of the Sioux
San Juan Record 1934-09-06 Crazy Horse, Fighting Chief of the Sioux
Times Independent 1934-09-06 Crazy Horse,Fighting Chief of the Sioux

Manti Messenger 1936-09-04 Geronimo Surrenders!" - Our Indian Wars End
Parowan Times 1936-09-04 "Geronimo Surrenders!"-Our Indian Wars End

Red Cloud
Iron County Record 1937-09-23 Red Cloud, Chief of the Oglala Sioux. Was a Warrior, Patriot and Diplomat
The Roosevelt Standard 1937-10-07 Red Cloud, Cheif of the Oglala Sioux, Was a Warrior, Patriot and Diplomat

Bonus feature looking towards Fall - my favorite time of the year:

Indian Summer
Kane County Standard 1929-10-25 Indian Summer
Parowan Times 1929-10-23 Indian Summer
Piute County 1929-10-25 Indian Summer [best copy]
Rich County 1929-10-18 Indian Summer

Memorials to a Vanished Race
Kane County Standard 1929-09-13 Memorials to a Vanished Race
Millard County Progress 1929-09-06 Memorials to a Vanished Race
Murray Eagle 1929-09-05 Memorials to a Vanished Race


 "Stories of Great Indians” by Elmo Scott Watson: Syndication, Standardization, and the Noble Savage in Feature Writing, by Miranda Brady

Quoting her abstract verbatim::   "This paper explores the career and work of journalist Elmo Scott Watson, describing the role of his syndicated feature stories in standardizing discourses about American Indian people in the popular press of the early twentieth century. Situating Watson’s work against the backdrop of professionalized news, I argue that it was not merely the emerging technologies which led to the reproduction of the noble and ignoble savage binary in the popular press, but the “internal logics” of such discursive formations which made them so easily reproduced. In addition, I suggest that while scholars have focused a great deal of attention on hard news stories and the ideal of objectivity, we can learn more by exploring the productivity of “entertaining” newspaper content such as Watson’s stories. Watson was an agent in reproducing the standards of his discipline, and looking to his work can tell us a great deal about the exigency of his field as journalism was becoming professionalized. I argue that while Watson’s stories were considered entertaining, he and others in his field believed such content served an important educational function; in particular, Watson believed he was correcting negative misconceptions about American Indian people through the noble savage identity construct." [Watson, “The Last Indian  War, 1890-91--A Study of Newspaper Jingoism."]

Moreover, Ms. Brady later reveals that, while promotional literature stated "“The Indian has been the author’s hobby,” more tellingly about Watson, "It is clear from his interest in American Indian issues and his criticism of the United States government and journalists for inciting the violence at Wounded Knee he felt empathy for  American Indian people and wished to dispel what he perceived as unfair stereotypes about them...he argued that newspaper coverage had facilitated the slaughter of Indian men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in 1890,..."

 "Along with many others of his generation, Elmo Scott Watson seemed to long for the unexplored frontier." she tells us and Watson "...desperately attempted to record those great achievements of American Indian individuals before they were forgotten." Through Brady we learn that Watson once opined -  “Some day, perhaps, he [the American Indian hero] will get justice—not justice in the restoration  of his land which most of us admit we stole from him and did it pretty crudely, but justice in  what we say about him”. He continues, "Perhaps, then, there won’t be so much in our school histories about some of the blundering generals of the Civil War and more about Crazy Horse and Gall, Cornstalk  and Little Turtle. We may even put Black Hawk, Osceola, King Phillip, Tecumseh and  Captain Jack under the classification of patriots along with some of the Revolutionary  statesmen and soldiers."

Brady then informs us that in Great Stories of Indians..."Watson often combined this identity construct with other popular narratives such as Greco/Roman epidictic speech and biblical stories. For example, he writes,  “About the best we can do in estimating the Indian is to take him just as he was, a pretty fine sort  of savage man – certainly as good as many of the Homeric Greeks and the Romans – and give  him is place in history” The following example from the series, “Stories of Great Indians” illustrates Watson’s elixir of American Indian characters and well accepted biblical narratives: “The white man’s history records Captain Jack only as a treacherous murderer. Had he been a white man, perhaps it  would have pronounced him a martyr.”*   Demonstrating the noble savage construct, he described Shabbona and Spotted Tail as “friends” of the white man. Sitting Bull became “The Indian Sphinx”. He suggested of  Chief Rain-In-The-Face that he was “a man utterly indifferent to pain, danger or death”.  Sequoyah became the “Cadmus” of the Cherokees, Osceola became the  “Indian Hamlet”, and Chief Joseph was the Xenophon of the Indians.  He referred to Chikchikam Lupalkuelatko as “the Leonidas of the Modocs,” after the Spartan leader.  He called Pontiac the “Indian Napoleon” and  referred to Chief Red Jacket as “Sage of The Senecas”.  In addition to the  stories, series illustrations also exemplified the iconographic Indian. A drawing of an archetypal,  mascot-esc noble savage in headdress adorns the cover of “Stories of Great Indians” series. 13   But at the same time Watson paternalistically imposed these Greeko-Roman and  Christian oriented tales onto Native people, he suggested that his Indian subjects were less developed socially. [Again, see my Stories of Great Scouts and Great Indians also at Selected links to Historical Articles by ES Watson and JD Sherman - 1921-1945

Watson appealed to his more skeptical readers with the following passage:  
"Some readers may think I have played these Indians up too much as heroes, and be  impelled to write to the editor and tell him what they think of the stories and the man who  wrote them. To get a jump on them I will say this……To the old-timer who has seen  Indians on the warpath and witnessed some of their cruelties, who says: “If that young  feller had seen some of the things I’ve seen them red devils do!”…Common fairness  shouldn’t allow us to judge the Indians by our standards.  He was a savage, at just about the stage in civilization the white man was just a few centuries back.  The Apache Indian, usually rated the worst of them all, didn’t have much on the Spanish Inquisition.  About  300 years ago the Puritans were burning witches in the name of religion.  The Germans  are said to have done some beastly things in Belgium....He’s gone now and no amount of railing against the destiny which ruled that the white  man should dominate the red, can bring him back. Sometime the yellow race may do the same to the white and then the law of compensation will have worked out." 

[Watson, Elmo Scott.,  Stories of Great Indians (1922). Western Newspaper Union. Accessed  through the Newberry Library’s Ayer Collection: Elmo Scott Watson Papers, Box 5,   Folder 47.)]
While not trying to argue the validity, merits or moral efficacy of either the noble or ignoble savage construct, or adopt Watson's own Darwinist determinism, or even agree that those Native Americans living today - not gone by a long shot - deserve a better deal... I do hope that by resurrecting these articles, once again Watson's writing will, as Ms. Brady so eloquently assesses, find itself   "...resonating easily with readers, providing them with edutainment to fill their leisure hours.  Elmo Scott Watson was one of the notable feature writers and teachers who helped to establish those longstanding formulas in his profession which would appeal to the reader’s sense  of pleasure while they self-educated."

The dry, politically correct, and always controversial, history found in the textbooks of the now last half century or more, certainly pale [face] in comparison!  
*Stories of Great Indians -  Satank Shows How A Kiowa Chief Can Die - Captain Jack, The Martyr Of The Modocs - By Elmo Scott Watson - Lafayette Ledger - Jun 10, 1922
also later covered in
Historical Highlights - Massacre in Modoc-Land - Gen E.R.S Canby - By Elmo Scott Watson - The Pentwater News, Apr 18, 1941





To find full feature articles on some of these great warriors, search at UDN, or scan by eye or use your browser's "find" feature at Selected links to Historical Articles by ES Watson and JD Sherman - 1921-1945

OK - here's what I culled in order to save you the effort!:

The Red Man Speaks for Himself - By Elmo Scott Watson
Duchesne County Newspapers - Sep 21, 1928

Piute County 1928-03-23 In the Days of Geronimo

Piute County 1928-05-11 Three Famous Indian Mothers

- Providence County Times, Aug 30 and Sep 6, 1929

When Great Tecumseh Fell - Battle of the Thames - Johnson's Kentucky
Mounted Riflemen - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Providence County Times, Sep 13 and Sep 20, 1929

Piute County 1929-09-27 When Great Tecumseh Fell

Piute County 1929-12-06 To Preserve Indian Sign Language 

Osceola - Seminoles - "They Fell Without an Attempt to Retreat" - By
Elmo Scott Watson
- Providence County Times, Dec 27, 1929
- The Pentwater News, Jan 3, 1930

Quannah Parker- Comanche - Joseph-Nez Perce - Honoring Two Great
Chieftains - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Pentwater News, Oct 3, 1930 (only 1 issue in Oct)

- The Pentwater News, Nov 4, 1932

Who Is the Greatest Indian Today - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Carbon County News, Sep 6, 1933

Piute County 1934-06-29 They Sowed the Seeds of Liberty - Iroquois

"Ending" of Our 100-Year Indian "War"? - Seminoles - Osceola-  By Elmo Scott Watson
- Pueblo Indicator - May 4, 1935

Passing of the Pottawatomies - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Pueblo Indicator - Jul 27, 1935


Iron County Record 1937-06-10 Joseph of the Nez Perces
Parowan Times 1937-06-11 Joseph of the Nez Perces

Joseph of the Nez Perces - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Pueblo Indicator, Jun 12, 1937

"Little Crow has Taken the Warpath!" - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Pueblo Indicator - Aug 14, 1937

Battle of Thames, October 5, 1813, Ended Career of a Great Red Man - Tecumseh - By Elmo Scott
- Pueblo Indicator - Oct 1, 1938

- The Pentwater News, Oct 21, 1938

Iron County Record 1938-09-01 Story of a White Man, a Red Man and "Father of Waters,"

Sitting Bull's Death - Tatanka i-Yotanka - By Elmo Scott Watson
- The Pentwater News, Dec 13, 1940

The Indian of Today - First Class Fighting Man - By Elmo Scott Watson
-The Pentwater News, Jul 2, 1943




Charles Erskine Scott Wood - Nez Perce Campaign - By Elmo Scott Watson
- Pentwater News - Apr 7, 1944

The recent death of Col Charles Erskine Scott Wood in California recalls one of the most dramatic incidents in American military history...
also in
The Clinton County Times - Mar 30, 1944 

for more on the fascinating, wide-ranging life of this talented and accomplished renaissance man see: Erskine_Scott_Wood

Famous Indians, Charles Erskine Scott Wood, The Century Company, 1893

Century Illustrated Monthly 46, July 1893, pp. 436-445

FEW years ago the buffalo stopped the way of the Union Pacific trains, but to-day it is to be found only as a rarity in parks and menageries. The typical North American Indian is nearly as extinct. Judging from my own observation among them, the generation which is now passing away will be the last which will truly exhibit the finer qualities of the natural savage.
It would be foreign to the present subject to discuss the reasons for the decay of the Indian; it is enough to accept the fact that he receives from civilization little or nothing which benefits him. Morals are largely mere customs or habits of thought; the essential morality oflife,which, broadly speaking, is truth and honesty, is known and valued among every people. The Indian always esteemed bravery, virtue, and truth, so I believe he has gained little or nothing from the white civilization,and has lost everything. He has lost the fine flavor of the wilderness, much of the simplicity and integrity of natural life, or " savagery," and has readily absorbed the pleasant vices of civilization. With drunkenness, disease, dependence upon a paternal government which is not paternal, and the annihilation of his environment, it has become as impossible for the Indian to exist as for the buffalo. Therefore, it is thought that the medallions here presented of some of the greatest Indian chiefs, men who are typical of all that was best in the original life of this people, will have great ethnological, as well as artistic, interest, and that the careful modeling of their faces by Mr. Olin L. Warner, an artist conscientiously realistic in his portraiture, yet subtly imaginative in his delineation of character, will prove a work of national importance. The entire expedition, which, as a private enterprise, has preserved these valuable memoranda for the future generations of America, is perhaps worthy of extended comment; but only this will now be said — that the reader may appreciate the rare opportunity which placed such valuable material at his disposal. It was undertaken by Mr. Warner from a love of the subject, and was accomplished without aid from any one, except that he was fortunate in the sympathy of Mr. Edward McNeill, General Superintendent of the Union Pacific Railway, who lent valuable assistance. Indeed, one of the medallions—that of Seltice—was modeled in the car placed at Mr. Warner's disposal, and could not have been obtained in any other way, as Seltice's engagement to be at the camp of some of his people was of far more importance in his eyes than mere dabblings in mud; but he had no objection to the sculptor making what use he pleased of his features during the time he himself was being forwarded on his way. As I am not competent to speak for them, the reproductions of the medallions must speak for themselves; but no reproduction can do justice to the sculpturesque and poetic qualities of the original. Joseph was modeled life-size, the others about one half or two thirds life-size. One of the most noticeable traits of Mr. Warner's subjects was their personal indifference to his work. They obliged him by posing as an act of courtesy or hospitality, but it was evidently a great bore, and when they were notified that the work was done, they quietly walked away without even looking at it. Whether they really saw everything out of the comers of their eyes, as an Indian has a habit of doing, and whether this lack of interest in themselves was affected or not, I cannot say; but I am inclined to think it was genuine, for when they were asked to inspect the medallions and to give an opinion, they did so pleasantly and simply...."

[Indians featured: Joseph - Nez Perce, Encheaskwe, or Vincent, chief of the Coeur d'Alenes, Seltice - Coeur d'Alene, Lot - chief of the Spokanes, Young Chief - Cayuse, Moses, or Sulktash-Kosha (the Half Sun) - chief of the Ilnamehin or Okinokane, Yatiniawitz - chief of the Cayuses, E-He-Gant - chief of the Pi-Utes]

"Joseph came to his surrender as a wintry sun was nearing the horizon. He said:
Tell General Howard I know his heart. What he told me before—I have it in my heart. I am tired of fighting. Our chiefs are killed. Lookingglass is dead. Too-hul-hul-suit is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men, now, who say " Yes "or " No." He who led on the young men is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people — some of them — have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are — perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and to see how many of them I can find; maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs, my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands I will fight no more forever!

Joseph has only one wife, and his youngest child, a daughter, was born during the heat of the fight in White Bird Canon in 1877. He told me, however, when last I saw him, that his tepee was now empty and he was alone, for all his children were dead. He is a great Indian, a great soldier, and, more than that, he is a great man."...

"Yatiniawitz has been a most valuable ally to the whites since he ceased fighting them, lending his fervid oratory, the poetical fire of which nothing can describe, to an advocacy of peace and friendship. He has engaged in their service against other Indians upon every occasion, and, as the record on his medallion recites, has been three times wounded in their behalf. His eye has in it something of the expression seen in Joseph's, the studied calm and quiet reserve, the contented consciousness of force, sometimes noticed in the eye of a lion; but with Yatiniawitz there is also in the restless movements of the eye a suggestion of the hawk. Tall, lean, and wiry, he deserves his name of " Poor Crane." He is truly the embodiment of the wilderness, a creation of nature, and it would be as impossible for him to cultivate the lands allotted to him in severalty, as Young Chief is doing, as it would be for a cougar to turn sheep-dog. He still keeps to the simple wants of the savage, still lives as he has always lived, accepting the good and evil of his life with fortitude, and above all things insists that a man needs only two virtues—bravery and truth." C. E. S. Wood. 

A book of tales: being some myths of the North American Indians
Charles Erskine Scott Wood, The Vanguard press, 1929

Re-imagining the Indian: Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Frank Linderman, by Sherry L. Smith
The Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 87, No. 3, Power and Place in the North American West (Summer, 1996), pp. 149-158

From the Halls of Montezuma
Montezuma: Warlord of the Aztecs by Peter G. Tsouras; The Indian Chief as Tragic Hero: Native Resistance and the Literatures of America, from Moctezuma to Tecumseh by Gordon M. Sayre; The Conquest of Texas: Ethnic Cleansing in the Promised Land, 1820-1875 by Gary Clayton Anderson; From Dominance to Disappearance: The Indians of Texas and the Near Southwest, 1786-1859 by F. Todd Smith; Morning Star Dawn: The Powder River Expedition and the Northern Cheyennes, 1876 by Jerome A. Greene; The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke, Volume Two, July 29, 1876-April 7, 1878 by Charles M. Robinson,; Lt. Charles Gatewood and His Apache Wars Memoir by Charles B. Gatewood; Louis Kraft
Review by: Bruce VandervortThe Journal of Military History, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Apr., 2007), pp. 505-511


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