Alcohol was used to commit atrocities against Native people
by Thomas Ivan Dahlheimer
This article is mostly about how and why European Christian colonists used
alcohol as a chemical weapon of warfare in their genocidal and ethnic cleansing mistreatment and exploitation of
It also addresses the subject of how and why European colonists used the Ojibwe's weakness to abuse alcohol during
the fur trade era to force the Dakota from their northern
In this article I present statements made by historians who wrote about the fur trade as well as statements made by Indians who lived during
the fur trade era. I also present commentaries on this topic. They present information about the Roman Catholic Church's role in the
fur trade and how and why it participated in the corruption/harm that the trading of alcohol for furs brought upon
In the fifteenth century a series of Papal bulls/decrees set the stage for the radical mistreatment and exploitation of indigenous peoples. They were
official authorizations to "invade, capture, vanquish" and "subdue" indigenous peoples, "subjugate" them,
so that they would be "brought to the faith itself" and the "Christian Empire" would be propagated. They also authorized Europeans
to "reduce their persons to perpetual slavery" and "take away all their possessions and property".
"The trading posts introduced many types of alcohol (especially brandy and rum) for trade. European traders
flocked to the continent and made huge profits off the exchange. reference
"For many years, Jesuit missionaries had complained about the corruption which the fur trade was creating among Native Americans.
These protests fell upon deaf ears, especially after the Louis XIV's dispute with Rome began in 1673."
"The difficult problem of alcohol in the fur trade was never eliminated. In fact, its effect on the Indians increased as the fur-bearing
animals were depleted and the Indians began to surrender their lands." reference
In the end, the fur trade escalated into inter-tribal war, which became even more deadly with the infiltration of European guns and
ammunition. Sadly, alcohol also came into the picture as a result of European trade. Traders introduced alcohol to the Wabanakis,
who later traded expensive furs to support their newfound addiction. English negotiators even went so far as to use alcohol to get the
Wabanakis drunk before signing treaties. reference
"Your Traders now bring scarce anything but Rum and Flour; they bring little powder and lead, or other valuable goods. The Rum ruins us.
We beg you would prevent its coming such quantities by regulating the Traders. We never understood the Trade was to be for Whiskey
and Flour. We desire it may be forbidden, and none sold in the Indian Country...." reference
"When these Whiskey Traders come, they bring thirty or forty kegs and put them down before us and make us drink, and get all the skins
that should go to pay the debts we have contracted for goods bought of the Fur Traders...." reference
"Pressures from fur and whiskey traders goes much further in explaining the Indian wars than any lack of "civilized"
values. Who needed civilizing were the entrepreneurs who used such poisons to make the Indian dependent. While in
one sense, we have become inured to the idea of alcohol being a symptom of American Indian despair, it is important
to understand how this substance entered their society. Today, there are all sorts of investigative journalists
reporting on how the contras introduced crack cocaine into the United States in order to fund the war in Nicaragua.
An investigation of the introduction of whiskey into the northwestern Plains states would also be a good idea.
Just as British capitalism used rum, sugar and slaves to drive its commercial expansion into the Caribbeans and
American south, so did the fur trading companies use a combination of whiskey, furs and alcohol-addicted Indian
hunters to increase their wealth." reference
"To put it more bluntly, the British and American fur traders lured the Indians into the cash trade by offering
them whiskey, the one thing that was not available on the open range. They used whiskey in the same way that the
British used opium in China. It was a way of breaking down the doors of a local economy that had little use for
the lure of imported goods. reference
"Fur traders did act as wilderness explorers but many aspects of their business were anything but heroic. It is vital
to balance the picture of the fur trader as an explorer and pioneer with the less flattering portrait of the fur
trader as a pusher of dangerous and addictive substances, a fomenter of intertribal and intratribal conflict,..."
"The Beaver Wars (1630-1700) began in the east but soon spread
to the Great Lakes. The fur trade turned the Great Lakes into a war zone." reference
"...the western Great Lakes were relatively peaceful before 1630, but the fur trade changed this. Fur traded for steel
weapons allowed the Ojibwe to take hunting territory from other tribes. This gave them more fur to trade for more
weapons to expand even farther. War with the Dakota and Winnebago became more intense,..." reference
"The trading companies brought their rum and it flowed freely during trading
sessions. Drinking bouts and brawls were continuous among the natives while the
traders justified their practices on the grounds of competition.
This practice of getting his Indian trading partners drunk bothered Alexander Henry [,a leading
pioneers of the British-Canadian fur trade following the British Conquest of New France],
even if it didn't stop him from using the technique himself. His February 25th, 1803
journal entry says, 'Now the Indians are totally neglecting all their ancient customs and
manners and to what else can this degeneracy be ascribed but to their intercourse with
us. If there is a murder among the Soultex it is always in a drinking match, so that we
may in truth say that Liquor is the mother of all evil in the North West.'" (PPB, Dakota
Datebook, 3-12-09)" reference
"The Chippewa were confined to their reservation and forbidden to hunt, told they were now wards of the U.S.
government and dependent upon rations that were sparse and sporadically delivered.
This drastic change in lifestyle pushed the natives into extreme poverty and culture
shock which soon gave way to alcoholism." reference
"We have already waged a long war against the white man's poisons beginning with the
introduction of alcohol by the French and English fur traders who caused our people to
become addicted and dependent upon it as early as the 1700s. Our chiefs sent
messages to the directors of the fur trade companies not to bring it into our camps, but
the voyageurs brought it anyway." reference
"Trying to restore a balance of power and protect the trade route through the Ottawa Valley, the French broke a
long-standing rule and began to supply firearms to the Algonkin and Montagnais. This turned the tide only briefly,
since the Dutch started selling guns to the Iroquois. The result was an arms race and greater violence. The Huron
and Ottawa also received firearms from the French, and some of these weapons were traded to the Neutrals and Tionontati.
All this new armament arrived just as beaver were becoming scarce in southern Ontario from supplying the French.
Huron, Ottawa, Neutral, and Tionontati hunters solved this by moving into lower Michigan and using their new weapons
to take territory from the Assistaeronon, or Fire Nation (an alliance of Fox, Sauk, Mascouten, and Potawatomi).
Although the French were aware of what was happening, they made no attempt to stop it." reference
"The French allies and trading partners started the process of forcing the original tribes from lower Michigan, but they never
got to complete it. Facing a similar shortage of beaver in their homeland from trading with the Dutch, the Iroquois
during the 1630s needed to find new hunting territory but were hemmed in by powerful enemies." reference
For many tribes, lack of beaver furs meant lack of the addictive and dangerous drug alcohol. Consequently, lack of beaver furs meant
suffering due to unsatisfied
alcohol addiction cravings. Tribes would leave their own land when most of the beaver were used up. They would then, armed with guns and
ammunition, invaded other tribes' lands to get furs for alcohol. This was causing many intertribal wars. European Roman Catholic Monarchs
and the Roman Catholic Pope were aware of this and did nothing to stop it. They were using alcohol as a chemical weapon of warfare to greatly
deplete the native people's population to make room for "superior" white European Christian immigrants and so that the remaining natives
(a smaller population)
could be more easily "subjugated" and exploited.
"In the east, Indian slaves became a viable component of trade, along with deer skins and furs; in the west, American
Indians were enslaved by the Catholic Church in order to build and maintain its missions ... Indian slavery was ...
an integral part of the colonial economy." reference
"The Ojibwe had used up most of the beaver on their own lands supplying the French. This forced them to rely more on hunting
territory shared peacefully with the Dakota and to look with a jealous eye on the fur and rice lakes the Dakota had in Minnesota." reference
To the Ojibwe,
the coveted fur in the Dakota's land meant a good steady supply of alcohol to satisfy their alcohol
addiction cravings and a lot of wild rice. It also meant winning favior with the powerful White colonists.
"One of the Dakota antagonists was the Ojibwa. These conflicts became exacerbated with the arrival of the
White cultural, especially with the trading posts selling guns and whiskey, voyageurs and trappers selling
guns to the Ojibwa, and possible government activity, which encouraged the arming of the Ojibwa." reference
"Early White/Indian intervention played an important role in the settlement of the area by white men. The French, instigated
fights between the Ojibwe and Dakota so as to ally themselves with the Ojibwe." reference ~ Minnesota state DNR website
"The Dakota became increasingly disturbed by the heavy Ojibwe hunting, but the explosion came in 1736 when Verendrye attempted to
lure the Cree and Assiniboine away from the British by selling them firearms. The Dakota would not tolerate the French arming
"The Dakota uprising against the French in 1737 had been building for many years and would be the beginning of 130 years
of continuous warfare between the Ojibwe and Dakota. There were hostilities between these two tribes before the first
European saw the Great Lakes, but this had been low-level compared to what the fur trade created." reference
The Roman Catholic Church sanctioned fur trade, or the trading of the addictive and dangerous drug alcohol for furs, caused 130 years of continuous warfare between
the Ojibwe and Dakota and also the loss of the Dakota's northern Minnesota homeland, especially including their Mille Lacs homeland,
which was the center of the Dakota world.
"Following the French fur trade west during the 1720s, they moved beyond Lake Superior and into a war with the
Dakota (Sioux) in 1737. During the next century, the Ojibwe forced the Dakota out of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin."
"Starting from Chequamegon (La Pointe), the Pillager Band (of Ojibwe) began an invasion of the Dakota homeland. The initial movement was inland towards
Lac Courte Oreilles and Lac Flambeau to take northern Wisconsin. From there they spread west into Minnesota to attack the center
of the Dakota world, Mille Lacs. Allied with the Cree and Assiniboine, the Ojibwe at the same time advanced west from Thunder
Bay up the Rainey River portage dislodging the Dakota from what is now the border of Minnesota and Ontario. Following the
three-day battle at Kathio in 1750, the Dakota abandoned most of their villages in northern Minnesota (Mille Lacs, Sandy
Lake, Red Lake, Leech Lake, Cass Lake, and Lake Winnebegosh) and retreated south. By 1780 there was not a single Dakota
village north of the Minnesota River. reference
As previously stated in a quote, the French used some of their addicted to alcohol displaced Indian allies (the Huron, Ottawa, Neutral, and Tionontati),
who they had armed with guns and ammunition, to try to force the original tribes from their homelands in lower Michigan. This was not the last
time the French would use this process to mistreat and exploit Indians. The French continued to proceed in the same despicable process in northern
The Dakota had lived in their
own land in northern Minnesota for several hundred years, and then the
French used an addicted to alcohol displaced Indian ally of theirs (the Ojibwa), who they had supplied with guns and ammunition,
to violently forced an original tribe (the Dakota) from their northern Minnesota homeland, including an area now known as
Mille Lacs, which was the center of the Dakota world.
At Mille Lacs, there were sacred Dakota sites where sacred events occurred.
"To act out many of their rituals, Indians had to travel to
specific sites at which they believed sacred events occurred. Their difficulty was that when the U.S. government restricted
them to reservations, often they no longer had access to these sites, and therefore were unable to practice these rituals.
Since their rituals were linked to certain sites in the natural world, their religions declined as a result of being cut off from
these sites. reference
There were sacred sites in the Dakota's northern Minnesota homeland. Therefore, when the Dakota were forced from their northern
Minnesota homeland they were also forced from their sacred site. After this occurred, their religion declined as a result of being
cut off from these sites. And what made the situation even worse was that when the U.S. was established it did not give the Dakota's northern Minnesota land
back to them. It took possession of it and gave the Ojibwe occupancy rights to some of it. The Dakota remain in excile to this
It was because of their Roman Catholic mission that the French were using their, alcohol addicted, displaced Native allies to force original tribes from their
sacred lands. Their Papal directed mission was to "subjugate" the indigenous peoples, or make them believe that they did not own land, and could only
have occupancy rights to European colonized Christian land. It was also their mission to "bring them to the faith itself". It was more difficult to
convince a tribe that had lived in an area for a long time that their land no longer belonged to them than it was to convince a newly arrived
tribe that they did not own the land. And it was also easier for them
to be "brought to the faith itself". The original tribes' traditional religions were deeply interconnected with their
sacred homelands. The newly arrived tribes' religions were foreign to the original tribes' stolen lands, making it easier for them to
be "brought to the faith itself".
It was a Roman Catholic mission to exploit the Indian tribes' weakness to abuse alcohol. Roman Catholic European nations that were part of the
colonization of Americas process used alcohol to steal indigenous peoples lands and
resources and to destroy their traditional religions and cultures. Alcohol abuse associated with the fur trade caused many intertribal wars.
Many Indians died because of alcohol abuse and the intertribal wars caused by fur traders selling alcohol for furs. This process of mistreatment and
exploitation of Indian tribes was a part of the Roman Catholic
Church's genocidal and ethnic cleansing mission against the Indian tribes, and it worked very well.
Indigenous peoples of Africa were abused in a similar way. European salve traders brought ship loads of rum across
the sea to African tribal leaders and gave some of the barrels of rum to them. And they did this without warning them that
it was addictive and dangerous. They also neglected to warn them that, if they were to get addicted to it they would do
evil things to get more of it. By neglecting to warn them of the addictive and dangerous qualities of alcohol,
the European salve traders intentionally tricked the African tribal leaders. The tribal leaders' addiction to alcohol caused them to
capture many of their own people for the purpose of trading them (as salves) for more rum.
Hence, the white slave traders were able to make a lot of
money. They put the captured black African slaves in their ships as cargo bound for America. And on the way to
America 8,000,000 of them died because of the ships unhealthy living conditions. And for the slaves that survived
the trip many were separated (husband from wife, children from parents) and sold to white customers who lived
many miles apart.
Many of those white customers were Catholics. Both Catholic Bishops, as well as Catholic
laymen bought and owned black African slaves. They greedily made a profit from the slave traders' promotion of
alcohol abuse in Africa. The slave trade was a promotion of alcohol abuse, greedy money-making, white racist
scam and atrocity that many of our nation's Catholic Bishops and laymen participated in. By not telling their
people to quit buying slaves, the Roman Catholic Church's supreme hierarchical authorities encouraged this alcohol
abuse atrocity to continue, This radical neglect of their moral responsibility caused untold grief and suffering for
multitudes of indigenous people.
During a United Nations meeting of experts on the slave trade, Mrs. S.U. Abramova writes in the first segment of a UN"working paper"
is about the beginning history of the European slave trade of indigenous Africans, and which reveals who instigated, sanctioned and
promoted the European slave trade:
"In 1441, ten African slaves were brought back to Europe. Several were given to Pope Eugene IV. The others were sold
in Lisbon at an extremely high price. Following this first profitable sale of Africans the Portuguese sailors began
to bring back slaves from every voyage to Africa.".... "Pope Nicolas V issued a special bull granting the King of Portugal, Alphonso V,
the right to seize lands and enslave heathens in regions discovered by that time in Africa, and in these that
would be discovered."
Because of the Doctrine of Discovery, or a series of 15th Century Papal bulls/decrees, and the 1823 U.S. Supreme court
ruling [Johnson vs. McIntosh], a ruling based on the Doctrine of Discovery's principle that called for the subjugation of
indigenous peoples, our nation's indigenous peoples our still living in a racist subjugated state of existence.
During a July, 2009 convention, the national Episcopal Church passed a landmark resolution that repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery.
The resolution identifies where the source of the racism against U.S. indigenous peoples came from during our nation's early
history and where it is still coming from, the Doctrine of Discovery.
Because the Doctrine of Discovery and the incorporation of some of its despicable principles into, both, U.S. federal Indian law
and into other nations' laws as well, the United Nations had to adopt a [separate] human rights declaration, the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The State of Maine has adopted a resolution that endorses the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. By doing so, Maine has indirectly repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery.
Because present-day indigenous peoples' ancestors were not Christians at the time of their [discovery] by white European
Christians, they, according to U.S. federal Indian law, still can not be granted absolute ownership of their ancestral
homelands, nor can they be granted full independent sovereign nations status and rights.
These fundamental human rights of theirs are still being denied them, and this causes many indigenous people to
experience low self esteem, which subsequently causes depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse
problems, lack of incentive to work and provide for themselves, their families and tribes. Hence many experience
poverty and serious health problems that end with death. And this amounts to a slow genocidal process that
continues to plaque indigenous peoples to this present day.
I hope that the readers of this article will become aware that here in America a great awakening is
occurring that is similar to the awakening that the Germans experienced after World War II: an awakening
to their criminal nature and behavior. America is awakening to its terrible crimes against humanity, to
its need for radical repentance and to its need to offer restitution justice to the indigenous people
it has so radically abused.