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From worker-brc-news@lists.tao.ca Tue Nov 13 06:21:51 2001
From: Makani Themba-Nixon <mthemba@igc.org>
Subject: [BRC-NEWS] Bioterrorism Nothing New To Native Americans
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To: brc-news@lists.tao.ca
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2001 03:14:30 -0500 (EST)


Bioterrorism Nothing New To Native Americans

By Matthew Hay Brown <brown@courant.com>, The Hartford Courant, 1 November 2001

The germ attacks now producing terror in the United States have aroused in Jimmie D. Oyler of De Soto, Kan., a melancholy feeling of deja vu.

While officials try to trace the anthrax that has sickened more than a dozen Americans and killed four, Oyler remembers an earlier assault, by a foreign military power, that is believed to have killed thousands of Americans - including some of his own ancestors.

Bioterrorism, it's terrible, and now it's happening again, said Oyler, principal chief of the United Tribe of Shawnee Indians.

The year was 1763, and it was the forebears of the United States who deployed the weapon. The British Army was trying to quell Pontiac's Rebellion, a Native American uprising in the waning days of the French and Indian War, when Gen. Jeffrey Amherst hit on the idea of grinding the scabs of smallpox pustules into blankets and giving them to the natives.

I will try to inoculate [infect] the Indians by means of blankets that may fall in their hands, taking care however not to get the disease myself, Amherst, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, wrote to Col. Henry Bouquet. And in another letter to Bouquet: You will do well to try to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as to try every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.

I received your excellency's letters of 16th with their enclosures, Bouquet wrote back. All your directions will be observed.

A Capt. Ecuyer, commander of Fort Pitt, made a gift of smallpox-infected blankets from the garrison hospital to a visiting delegation of Shawnee, Delaware and other Indians, according to St. John's University Prof. William R. Nester.

It ripped through the Ohio Valley, said Nester, author of Haughty Conquerors: Amherst and the Great Indian Uprising of 1763. The number of deaths was not recorded, but certainly subsequent incursions into that region found the will of the Indians had been weakened.

It is one of the earliest documented incidents of biological warfare in history.

Not only did they do it to us, but later on, they did it to tribes further out West, said Oyler, a retired Navy pilot who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. And now it's turned around and ... it's happening to the United States.

Amherst was a hero in the colonies before the American Revolution, and several towns were named for him. In recent years, residents of Amherst, Mass., seat of both elite Amherst College and the main campus of the University of Massachusetts, have proposed changing the name of the town.

A spokesman for Amherst College, where the sports teams are called the Lord Jeffs, said school officials frequently are asked about the incident.

We get it a lot, Paul Statt said. Our response is that we're named after the town, not the man.