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Ely S. Parker: The Story of Donehogawa, First Indian Commissioner of Indian Affairs

Discussion in 'Post Civil War History, The Reconstruction Period' started by Bee, Jan 7, 2017.

  1. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    “the effect of Congressional legislation, had since I have had the honor to be Commissioner of Indian Affairs, has been to almost wholly divest the Indian Bureau of all its original importance, duties, and proper responsibilities. Under present arraignments the Commissioner of Indian Affairs is nearly a supernumerary officer of the government, his principle duties being simply that of a clerk to a Board of Indian Commissioners, operating wholly outside of and almost independently of the Indian Bureau…” July 18, 1871, Donehogawa (Ely S. Parker)tendered his resignation to his good friend, President Grant
    The story of the unlikely friendship between President Grant and Ely S. Parker was almost as unlikely as Ely S. Parker's rise to prominence in a time and place that did not welcome Native Americans under the best and most controlled of circumstances. This article below is an excellent overview of the life and accomplishments of Donehogawa -- known by his English name: Ely S. Parker.

    The Story of Donehogawa, First Indian Commissioner of Indian Affairs
    Ulysses S. Grant was aware of the corruption within the Office of Indian Affairs and looked to end it
    Barry Babcock • January 4, 2017

    The election of Ulysses S. Grant in 1868 brought about what seemed for a time, an epochal change in the Office of Indian Affairs, although, at first, it did not get off to a good start.

    Grant was aware of the pervasive corruption within the Office of Indian Affairs. His initial way of dealing with this was to replace all Indian Agents with military men whom he felt would be immune from the system of political spoils.

    On January 23, 1870, Major Eugene M. Baker led a detachment of U.S. Army cavalry out of Fort Ellis, Montana after a band of Piegan Blackfeet who had been stealing horses. A band of Blackfeet were surrounded along the Marias River and massacred.

    “Of the 219 Piegans in camp, only 46 escaped to tell the story; 33 men, 90 women, and 50 children were shot to death as they ran from their lodges,” reportsBury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown.

    A cover-up was ensued by the Army until about three months later when a Lieutenant William B. Pease, acting agent for the Blackfeet, risked his career by releasing all the facts surrounding this to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, including the fact that all this was brought about by the theft of only a couple of mules from a wagon freighter.

    By the time news of this atrocity reached the Office of Indian Affairs, the new Commissioner was not a white man, but a full-blooded Iroquois, by the name of Donehogawa, “Keeper of the Western Door of the Long House of the Iroquois.” His English name was Ely Samuel Parker. https://indiancountrymedianetwork.c...al&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer
     

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  3. Legion Para

    Legion Para 1st Lieutenant Forum Host Retired Moderator

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    Its important to remember our past, the good and the bad. Thanks @Bee for posting this story.

    ElyParkerfrontcov_writeup.jpg

    4559433._UY200_.jpg
     
  4. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    I am remiss! As you can see: I do not own a biography on Ely S. Parker, even though I have read much about him.

    AAAAmerican Indain.jpg AAAAmerican Indan 2.jpg
     
  5. KansasFreestater

    KansasFreestater 1st Lieutenant

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  6. E_just_E

    E_just_E Captain Forum Host

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    Parker was Grant's friend from antebellum times. He was a civil engineer from New York State and wanted to join the Union Army but was denied multiple times (because Native Americans were not allowed in the Union Army; another not well known fact.) Grant allowed him to join as an engineer and Parker was very involved in the siege of Vicksburg. Probably during the war his greatest claim to fame was that he was the one who drafted the terms of the Confederate surrender at the Appomattox Courthouse. Made it up to Colonel and was breveted Brigadier General.

    Any chance this can be moved to the Other Notable Biographies Forum. These type of discussions are perfect for that forum
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
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  7. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    Please feel free to do so. I am not sure how that works, but you have my full blessing to make it so.
     
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  8. chellers

    chellers Brigadier General Moderator Trivia Game Winner

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    Just moved to Post Civil War History.
     
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  9. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    Thank you
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2017
  10. hoosier

    hoosier 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    The article from Indian Country Media Network referenced in post # 1 in this thread states that Ely Parker (Donegohawa) received his engineering training at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

    He certainly got his training somewhere, and Parker himself said that he got it at RPI.

    Unfortunately, as much as RPI would love to claim him as an alumnus, they have absolutely no record that he ever attended the school.

    Of course, the "Indian Wars" continued well after the Civil War was over and there were a great many people who bore a great deal of animosity toward Native Americans.

    It is speculated that sometime during that period, somebody got into RPI's records, found the portion relating to Parker's attendance, said something to the effect of "I'm not going to let any blankety-blank Indian take credit for going to this school," and simply removed those records and threw them away.
     
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  11. Bee

    Bee 1st Lieutenant Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    This is very interesting -- thank you for the additional information, hoosier.
     
  12. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    Thanks.
     
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