Genocide & Intent Of The Infected Blankets

( – promoted by winter rabbit)

Plains Indian Smallpox

Indian genocide is a controversial subject on the internet and on this site. Genocide and Holocaust are words that are easy to throw around, often to grab a reader’s attention, but proving them is something else. What one group calls genocide, another group may call progress. This statement is used in the same context as the saying…one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

The argument for Indian genocide is based primarily on letters written by General Jeffery Amherst during the French and Indian War.Letters by General Amherst and Colonel Bouquet mentioning spreading smallpox to Indians does not mean that this was ever carried out.
Assumptions derived from letters and oral traditions are not proof of anything.

Crossposted at Progressive Historians

Those who condone the above statement must also believe that such indigenous tribes as the Mandan-Hidatsa are liars and incorrect in their oral histories, but what they cannot deny is the intent to commit genocide was in fact there (all bold print is mine).

(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life designed to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part


By the second half of the century, many of the combatants in America’s wars of empire had the knowledge and technology to attempt biological warfare with the smallpox virus. Many also adhered to a code of ethics that did not constrain them from doing so. Seen in this light, the Amherst affair becomes not so much an aberration as part of a larger continuum in which accusations and discussions of biological warfare were common, and actual incidents may have occurred more frequently than scholars have previously acknowledged.

“Fort Pitt is in good State of Defense against all attempts from Savages,” Bouquet reported, but “Unluckily the small Pox has broken out in the Garrison.”3 By June 16, then, from sources unknown, smallpox had established itself at Fort Pitt. It is likely that Amherst knew of the situation by the end of June.

Bioterrorist Threats: Potential Agents and Theoretical Preparedness

Dr. John Bartlett filled in for Peter Jahrling of USAMRIID for a segment devoted to one of the likely potential bioterrorist agents, smallpox.[2] The use of this agent to intentionally cause human disease dates back to 1754 during the French and Indian War, when infected blankets were given to Native Americans as a “token of good fortune.”

American Indian Prophecies. Kurt Kaltreider, PH.D. pp. 66-67

In 1779, George Washington sent orders to General John Sullivan concerning the need to attack and destroy the Iroquois Nations.

“The immediate objects are total destruction of their settlements, and capture of as many prisoners of every age and sex possible -“

Washington was also an advocate of germ warfare, first introduced by Sir Jeffery Amherst after whom the town of Amherst, Massachusetts, and Amherst College are named. The idea of germ warfare with smallpox was suggested to Colonel Henry Bouquet, after which Colonel Bouquet wrote back:

“I will try to inoculate the [Indians] with some blankets that may fall into their hands, and take care not to get the disease myself. As it is pity to expose good men against then, I wish we could make use of the Spanish method, to hunt them with English dogs, supported by rangers and some light horse, who would, I think, effectually extirpate or remove the vermin.”

About 60 years later, Andrew Jackson took Colonel Bouquet’s advice in his war against the Seminoles. 


During the Seminole War the Federal Soldiers used germ warfare weapons, such as leaving small pox infected blankets for the Seminole to take and catch the disease.
  This was a tried and true tactic of warfare in the Americas. The British attempted this against Washington’s troops at Yorktown and Europeans used germ warfare against native Americans in New England. At Yorktown, the National Park Service explains the role of Slaves as germ warfare weapons in the plaque reproduced here. I guess the incentive for slaves was ‘you’re free if you go cause small pox among American forces … if you survive.’

The fact that Europeans brought the deadly diseases with them, through ship rats who found their way to the indigenous tribes for example, is well established.

Historical Viewpoints. “American Indians And European Diseases.” Alfred W. Crosby pp. 48-49

Whether plague or typhus, the disease went through the Indians like fire. Almost all the seventeenth-century writers say it killed nine of ten and even nineteen of twenty of the Indians it touched –

In short, one does not necessarily have to accept a 90 percent death rate for a given village or area to accept a 90 percent depopulation rate.

So, the European settlers (not all were vicious like this) and General Jeffery Amherst knew what smallpox and the deadly diseases were already doing:depopulating the indigenous people.

First Nation History. Daniel M. Paul

The following is an excellent example of their racist mentality in action. In July 1763, General Jeffery Amherst, the Commander-in-Chief of British forces in North America, sent a memo to Colonel Henry Bouquet, a Huguenot in the service of England, asking:

“Could it not be contrived to send the Smallpox among the disaffected Tribes of Indians?”

Bouquet replied: “I will try to inoculate the Indians with some blankets that may fall into their hands, and take care not to get the disease myself.”

General Jeffery Amherst and those settlers who thought likewise must have asked themselves some very disturbing questions –

Siege of Fort Pitt

(Wikipedia source, read accordingly)

Bouquet agreed, writing to Amherst on 13 July 1763: “I will try to inoculate the bastards with some blankets that may fall into their hands, and take care not to get the disease myself.” Amherst responded favorably on 16 July 1763: “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every other method that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.”[2]

As it turned out, however, officers at the besieged Fort Pitt had already attempted to do what Amherst and Bouquet were still discussing.

Maybe they asked, “How can we help speed the process?”

General Amherst and Germ Warfare. Bernhard Knollenberg:


Public Health Issues in Disaster Preparedness: Focus on Bioterrorism. By Lloyd F. Novick:


Query and Replies: Indians and Smallpox(8 posts)

I have been reviewing the documents in the latest volume of

The Papers of Henry Bouquet which has many interesting texts

on relations with various Native American tribes, and on frontier

warfare. A number of the texts deal with the decision to use

small pox as a deliberate form of germ warfare against the

Indians in the 1760s. I recall much coverage of the decimation

of the Indians by disease during the Columbus anniversaries,

but I am not familiar with the historiography on the deliberate

use of smallpox or other diseases as a weapon–or indeed the

historiography on the origins of germ warfare in general.

Would any of you be able to inform me of sources on this subject?

Thanks in advance. Elizabeth M. Nuxoll. The Papers of Robert Morris

Queens College, CUNY

Smallpox Blankets in History and Legend. Adrienne Mayor:


The Europeans wanted land, gold, silver, coal (in the future), and slave labor.

Since using the indigenous people’s inability to cure themselves of the onslaught of disease didn’t work as well as they wished it would have worked –

A People & A Nation. 4th Edition. p.38

In the pursuit of their conversions, the Jesuits sought to undermine the authority of the villiage shamans (the traditional religious leaders) and to gain the confidence of leaders who could influence others. The Black Robes used a variety of weapons to attain the desired end. Trained in rhetoric, they won admirers by their eloquence. Seemingly immune to smallpox, they explained epidemics among the Native Americans as God’s punishment for sin, their arguments aided by the ineffectiveness of the shaman’s traditional remedies for illness against that deadly disease.

  – perhaps they hoped that death would solve all of their “problems.”


See the reason of my bemusement is that I am a full blooded Oneida “Indian” (I will use that term for simplicity’s sake although “First nations is our prefferred term). For us first nations our heritage and being is well documented and it is imperative to have been listed on a government listing of Indians called the Dawles Rolls?

That the ones of us they couldn’t kill with smallpox infected blankets they packed away on a reservation, robbed of our traditions, language and land.

Colorado professor fabricates Native history – Sunday, June 18, 2006

He (Ward Churchill) then pawned his lies to other scholars.

First, the army wasn’t even posted around our villages at the time Churchill claims. And no proof exists, orally or in text, to show blankets came from a hospital.

But our tribal people have long said the spread of smallpox was intentional.

I recently talked with Gerard Baker, a Mandan-Hidatsa and leading oral historian for our tribes. Baker, park superintendent at Mount Rushmore, is a fluent Hidatsa speaker and comes from a traditional family. He’s also lived and worked at many of our historical village sites along the Missouri.

Baker has talked with tribal elders and spent countless hours looking at the journals of the fur traders. He’s convinced traders deliberately spread smallpox to eliminate us as middlemen in the trade network.

Shawnee History

Only an informer saved the garrison at Detroit, but Forts Niagara and Pitt were surrounded and isolated. In desperation, Amherst wrote the commander at Fort Pitt, Captain Simeon Ecuyer, suggesting he deliberately attempt to infect the Shawnee, Delaware, and Mingo besieging his fort with gifts of smallpox-infected blankets and handkerchiefs. Ecuyer took this as an order and did exactly that.
It proved particularly effective because the Ohio tribes had little immunity having missed the 1757-58 epidemic among the French allies contracted during the capture of Fort William Henry (New York). The Shawnee were fighting the Cherokee in Tennessee at the time, and they carried the disease to them, and then the Shawnee living with the Creek Confederacy. From there it spread to the Chickasaw and Choctaw, and finally the entire southeast. Before it had run its course, the epidemic had killed thousands, including British colonists.

To end this, history is written by the victors and one of the “victor’s” techniques for hiding truth is hiding evidence, as it was in the case of theSand Creek Massacre.

Furthermore, to say “Assumptions derived from letters and oral traditions are not proof of anything” is calling those indigenous people who tell those oral traditions liars. So, I’m grateful for artists who have something to add to this “debate” (the following video does not specifically mention infected blankets).


Stories of disease-infected blankets deliberately given to Native Americans surfaced after the first European contact and continue to circulate. The vitality of the “smallpox blanket” story is ensured by documented examples of germ warfare but also by its resonance with the classical Nessus shirt and other poison-garment/deliberate-contamination themes. The moral tension embedded in such tales derives from ambiguous definitions of the Other and boundaries of ethical behavior toward enemies.

Apologists for the Genocide attribute the majority of deaths to the introduction of disease epidemics such as smallpox and measles by unknowing Europeans.


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  1. winter rabbit
  2. SallyCat

    Apologists for the Genocide attribute the majority of deaths to the introduction of disease epidemics such as smallpox and measles by unknowing Europeans.

    The Europeans knew damn well what they were doing and did it anyway. Stories are similar going as far back as the Conquest of Mexico in the 1500’s…and the spread of disease among the Aztecs and other native Americans was done knowingly by the Spanish.

    Excellent diary!


  3. gabriele droz

    I love your diaries, and always look forward to your next one.  If there is one thing I can get passionately behind it’s the treatment of Native people here in their own land!

    Don’t even get me started…

  4. winter rabbit

    have to respond later. Till then.

  5. spoon or no spoon

    I can’t judge any better than the historians as to what happened, but the fact is that smallpox would have spread widely and naturally to the native populations anyway, eventually. The end result would not have been that different, since the Old World disease met their New World immune systems with a vengeance. They never had a chance once the explorers and conquitadors and colonists showed up.

  6. cosmic debris

    was the knowing distribution of rotten and infested food on the reservations. I know this was the case on several of the confederated tribal reservations in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to read a really depressing book that covers the impact of Smallpox and war on the Oregon tribes read this:

    Beckham, Stephen Dow. 1971. Requiem for a People. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

  7. buhdydharma

    I just realized I hadn’t given tou full powers Rabbit!

    I will change your status know….I want this stuff on the FP!

    From now on all your posts will go directly to the FP unless you check the box on the compostion page. You will now see a box that says ‘other options’

    You can choose there whether to post to the FP or the recent list

    A 1000 pardons my friend!

    Please mail me if you have any Q’s

  8. FrankieB

    went back to college recently and too American Hiostory. Dr. Utz was and is an amazing instructor who was a danger to my GPA because he made it all so interesting that you forgot to take notes and all his tests were from notes. That being said he taught that particular fact and labeled it “Americans were the first bioterrorists by trying to remove Native Americans with smallpox laden blankets.” I can not tell you how sad that our treatment of the people that we stold this land from makes me. The natives would it seems to me accept us and share with us. Genocide need not occur. It is our great national disgrace that we treat humans the way we treat Indians, Black, or Brown people. Different is good. (Not to mention that according to the National Geographic Genome Project we all come from a single woman from the middle of Africa!) Wish more people could read your excellent diaries they are excellent.

  9. Shaharazade

    ‘proof’ of this biological attack. My namesake my great, great aunt, maybe 3, was a victim of this biological warfare. How to phrase this in modern terms is beyond me. I have daguerreotypes  of her, in my trunk of ancestors. She has blind eye sockets where her eyes should be. A victim of the blankets. She married ? a native American about the time you speak of. I have only an oral history to back me up. She lived with the Sioux and the picture I have is when she was in her 80’s. The oral history goes she lived with her husband a Sioux and received the blankets which were meant to kill the Indians. she survived and was blinded, her husband died, her children died.

  10. Knucklehead

    I have to get used to checking out the new avenue of dreams this place is.
    I`ll be on the look-out for your diaries as they are a subject I try & learn more & more about. With the build up of this knowledge, I can better share the truth. Thank you,,, for a terrible visit to the past.

  11. snud

    calling them “vermin” and “bastards” well, it’s hard to deny that the infections were intentional.

    No wonder the Native Americans still living around Mount Rushmore look up at those white guys and want to hurl.

    Howard Zinn covers a lot of the atrocities committed by Columbus in his book “A People’s History of the United States”. It’s not pretty.

  12. lotlizard

    Estimates of the proportion of the Hawaiian population killed by diseases after Cook’s visit go up to 80%.

  13. pinche tejano

    The Lady of the Blue Dress of Brazoria sometime.

    It’s a fascinating tell concerning blankets, Spaniards and prophecy.

    I’m stepping out right now, I might come back later and tell you.

  14. FireCrow

    Native American Prayer

    Oh, Great Spirit
    Whose voice I hear in the winds,
    And whose breath gives life to all the world,
    hear me, I am small and weak,
    I need your strength and wisdom.
    Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
    the red and purple sunset.
    Make my hands respect the things you have
    made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
    Make me wise so that I may understand the things
    you have taught my people.
    Let me learn the lessons you have
    hidden in every leaf and rock.

    I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
    but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
    Make me always ready to come to you
    with clean hands and straight eyes.
    So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
    my Spirit may come to you without shame.

    (translated by Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)
    published in Native American Prayers – by the Episcopal Church.

  15. lotlizard

    For me he was a ruthless genocidal mass murderer. But obviously not many Americans or Democrats would agree with me.

  16. winter rabbit
  17. winter rabbit

    And they sure as hell did. As if it was an “accident” or something innocent. “Hey look what it’s already doing, but we can do better.” Makes me sick to think about it. Blood boiling again.

  18. gabriele droz

    Ah yes, re-read before posting…re-read before posting…re-read before posting.  One of those days I’ll remember it.

  19. winter rabbit

    and agree wholeheartedly. Thankyou.

    Maybe we can get the next president to sign the U.N Declaration…

  20. winter rabbit

    myself recently….I know what you’re saying. I didn’t take it wrong in the least, BTW.

  21. gabriele droz

    Unfortunately he’s not running.

  22. winter rabbit

    Since I started researching this, blankets, people who had smallpox, and now food. I keep waiting to hear I don’t know….just disgusted and it’s too early in the morning.

  23. winter rabbit

    and I answered you more in the last diary in the conversation we were having.

  24. winter rabbit

    sharing that. Words aren’t where I can express, but may it help break the denial that this intended genocide did in fact occur, that the people might live.

      Mitakuye Oyasin

  25. winter rabbit

    And for the reminder. I don’t mean this snarkish for those that don’t understand the philosophy, but I am a pitiful two-legged, and that poem is a great reminder of what that means.

  26. winter rabbit

    It’s cool, and it’s been exactly perfect…happening the way it was supposed to. I was and am honored that you asked me,  and this is a beautiful blog my friend.
    Absolutely beautiful.

  27. winter rabbit
  28. winter rabbit

    This went up after an hour from the previous, but I hope I didn’t take someone’s slot. I’ll email buhdy.

  29. stonemason

    of a bona fide “coffin boat” Irish family, the British full well knew they were committing genocide on us too.

    It’s their family specialty, particularly the proud Tory families who rule the executive kleptocracy now.

  30. stonemason

    the incident where they rounded up and shot all the Apsalooka (Crow) people’s ponies, I think in the 1930’s.

  31. winter rabbit

    know that. We can help get rid of genocide denial by seeing and admitting all the correlations of the most evil thing known to mankind. It makes this world a living hell, and that doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    That’s disgusting beyond words, beyond words.

    I really think you should write a diary on it, for real. This shit has to end if we’re going to survive if we go past the tipping point, which we might be now. Don’t know for sure.

      I encourage you to share it more, and thankyou for sharing it here.

  32. TiaRachel

    once Europeans came over here that smallpox would spread. But deliberate infection, deliberate manipulation of that natural occurrance for political means — well, OK, I’m enough of a cynic to think that that was inevitable too. But still…

  33. winter rabbit

    I must get that one.
    Here’s some of what I learned about Columbus:

    Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890: 116th Anniversary. 12- 29-06, (Part 2)
    Opportunities to stop the European encroachment were lost in the beginning. Louis and Clark’s Expedition was one such later opportunity, but would defending their lives and way of life with force have stopped the European encroachment? It may have bought them time, or gave them less time than they already had. A sound conclusion is impossible, I think. However, since Europeans had superior technology and brought the diseases that killed 90% to 95% of the total indigenous population; I lean towards saying it was inevitable. The only way the death and destruction might have been possibly avoided or postponed, is if Christopher Columbus had perished in the Atlantic on February 14, 1493.
    Or, that no violent and conquesting Europeans ever discovered the Americas, which seems quite unrealistic to me, however ironic. Why didn’t the white Europeans emulate the Vikings? I always thought Vikings were more violent than Puritans were when I was growing up… didn’t you?

    When the Vikings Sailed to America
    The first European to land in America was Leif Ericson, a Viking seaman from Greenland (see Ericson). The ancient sagas give different accounts of this voyage made in the year 1000. Leif landed on a forested shore, which he called Vinland. He did not realize he had found a new continent, and Europe heard nothing of his discovery.
    In 1963 archaeologists uncovered the remains of a Viking…

    (for those who may not know)

    Columbus kidnapped Native People and took them back to Spain where they were at least forced into slavery and christianized & assimilated. I think tortured as well, but don’t quote me on that one. I need to look it up with what I’m thinking of. There was torture as cited in “Guns, Germs And Steel” by Jared Diamond. I can’t recall exactly by who and when.

    Well worth learning more about to get the truth out there more. Thanks again snud.

  34. lotlizard

    … Americans, the Tibetan Buddhists’ sacred mountain would have long ago been turned into a national monument with oversize heads of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao sculpted into the rock.

  35. Knucklehead

    And I responded in kind, last night.
    Have a nice day.
    I`m getting the hang of it now, checking in here, I mean.

  36. winter rabbit

    Thankyou Knucklehead.

    Hope your weekend is going well.

  37. stonemason

    a website about Dharma is welcome to me.

    I think we’re going to see some very final karma paybacks in our lifetime for those who thought they would get away with destroying the poor.  Wait until the ruling kleptocracy finds out there really is karma for this. 

    My belief as such is what keeps me going.

    Meanwhile the truth is foremost.  It is a high calling to keep the story true.  I think I will do that diary about the coffin boat Irish.  This site is quite conducive to a more personal approach. 

    Great work on this diary, Winter Rabbit, and all your work.

    Aho, and peace.

  38. winter rabbit

    Andrew Jackson, you covered it, “he was a ruthless genocidal mass murderer.”

    That covers it.

  39. winter rabbit

    And I’m grateful for you and your words.

  40. winter rabbit

    Chills on that one my friend, chills.

  41. stonemason

    doing a diary about reincarnation – what are your thoughts?  Good idea?

  42. stonemason
  43. spoon or no spoon

    It got around on its own fine, didn’t need help. As for cynical, look at the USSR bioweapons program after the said it was shut down…

  44. winter rabbit

    I’d like to see it.

  45. TiaRachel

    There was no smallpox in the Americas before Europeans landed. There was no ‘herd resistance,’ none of the gradual weeding out of the exceptionally vulnerable genes that had taken place in Eurasia. That’s no one’s fault. Yes, it would have (and did) spread well before the blankets. But — the blankets were intentional, and may have (probably did) had the effect of depopulating specific areas/tribes for their enemies political and military benefit.

    I get where you’re coming from — once Europeans came into contact with the immuno-naive indigenous populations of the americas, massive death (about the inverse of decimation, I think it was) was inevitable. It feels wrong to point the finger of blame at people who unintentionally carried a virus to an unexposed population, when they had no way of knowing what they were doing or of preventing it had they understood. The initial depopulation of the Americas is a horrible loss, but the only way of preventing it would have been for the populations on the two (sets of) landmasses to continue to have no contact.

    However. Various Europeans/Americans of European descent did in fact take deliberate actions to inflict smallpox in specific places, at specific times, in order to exterminate certain populations who got in their way. And these were not random individuals, but official governments and their representatives, who continue to be part of our political and cultural heritage.

    I have problems with things like the comment elsewhere in this thread, that the infliction of smallpox on indigenous americans was the ‘first bioterrorism.’ I doubt that. I suspect that people throughout the Eurasian landmass were tossing plague-rats into enemy cities for ages (in fact, I’ve seen that used to argue that of course the europeans knew what they were doing with smallpox, it was a well-known military tactic). And the earliest explorers had absolutely no way of knowing how completely devastating smallpox would be to these populations, no way of knowing whether they carried the virus, no way of knowing how to prevent it’s spread if they had. But later explorers and governments certainly did know how to exploit such a powerful weapon.

    Some aspects of this discussion can sometimes seem to lean towards a reverse-American Exceptionalism (Best! First! Unique! Worst!), and it can be tricky to tease that thread out of the argument. And yes, once contact took place,  the devastation was inevitable. But separate from that, this is history. Smallpox was devastating to the populations of the Americas, and it was deliberately used as a weapon against the indigenous peoples. Two distinct points. Maybe not first, worst, unique, or even avoidable, but this is our history.

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