Depredations

Updated: Jun 30

In the 1890s, these unnamed men from Montague County, Texas posed for a photograph after filing claims against the U.S. government for suffering Indian depredations. (University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections).


Since the southern Plains Indians were supposed to be under government supervision inside the post-Civil War reservations, any Indian activity (war, ambush, horse taking, hunting) was viewed as criminal. American settlers thus could file claims against the reservations via the Bureau of Indian Affairs to recoup their losses. The monies were deducted from tribal annuities.


I once encountered Charles Goodnight's depredations claims. His Palo Duro Canyon ranch was part of the Kiowa and Comanche lands that he received from Texas after his Ranger activity along the Texas/ Comancheria frontier during the Civil War. He used the money from the claims against the tribes to build up his livestock, which he then sold to the Fort Sill (Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache) and Fort Supply (Cheyenne) reservations.


As I tell my students, form your own conclusions about this.



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