View Full Version : Kit Carson

Diane Andrade
06-07-2005, 09:53 AM
Hi, I just signed in and read about Kit Carson.
I am writing a report on him and I agree with Historian about how he treated the Indians and I need for him or anyone else to please help me find out more about how he treated the Indians unfairly and caused the death of so many on the Long Walk.
Where can I read and print reports of his abuse to start my paper.

Thanks to anyone who can help me in advance


06-10-2005, 05:59 AM
No offense meant, Diane, but it looks like you're putting the cart before the horse. It's generally a good idea to gather facts BEFORE forming an opinion, not the other way around. You'll find it difficult to locate any contemporary "reports of his abuse", since all the primary source material supports the opposite view: that Carson fought very hard to win fair treatment for Native Americans, despite the fact that almost no white Americans in his day shared or supported that goal. As unsuccessful as his efforts may have ultimately been, he would find it tragically ironic that he has been remanufactured today as the poster boy for hatred, abuse and racism. Pursue your research with an open mind, without any preconceived opinions, and see if you don't come to the same conclusion. Good luck with your project.

06-10-2005, 11:54 PM

I would advise going to some of the Native American forums and ask them directly what they thought of Kit Carson. They will give you an honest answer. Get the facts from the source the people who he mistreated not a book written by a white man or women. They are not going to tell you what really happened from their point of view he was a great fighter. To us he was one of many who came here and desicrated our culture.


I am Native American. I have a question for you. If Kit Carson was such a great fighter for the Native Americans why do my ancestors dislike him so much? What do you think that white people are the only ones who can tell the truth and my ancestors are just making things up? I think you are giving your opinion and not gathering the facts. I can write a book on something and give you my opinion and my belief on a subject. Just because I wrote a book on something does not mean that it is the truth. It would be my opinion, belief and standpoint in that book, right? Yeah lets open our minds!!!

06-11-2005, 05:42 AM
It seems pretty obvious that some folks are really committed to their hatred of Kit Carson. The irony is that this is generally blamed on his alleged hatred. That's too bad, but everybody's free to form their opinions in whatever way suits them, I guess.

There isn't one single living human on earth today who personally knew Carson, and he obviously isn't around to defend himself. By definition, history is in the past, and can only be accessed and understood by what was recorded about it. Is this a perfect method of understanding the past? Of course not. But if all the documents and records of that past are declared to have no validity, then there is really no way to have a meaningful discussion about history at all. All we can do is compare notes about what our grandparents thought.

I believe I've raised several reasonable points in this debate, none of which have been reasonably addressed. For example, I'm still waiting for someone to explain why, if Carson was such a hate-filled monster, he would testify before congress that the whole conflict was white people's fault, and that Native Americans deserved alot more respect and much better treatment than they had ever gotten. Doesn't anybody find that interesting? Or is it simply dismissed as just another worthless historical record?

06-11-2005, 06:03 AM
southernsun, you state that you are Native American but you do not specify if you are Navajo, Apache, Tewa, etc.
My ancestry goes back to the 1500's when they came to the New World. Many of my ancestors married Indians, Tewa for one and my adopted mother's father was Navajo buried outside of Valdez. Life is too short to carry hatred for the tragidies that occured years ago. Remember before Kit Carson was even born the Europeans, other Indian tribes and then the Mexicans were being killed, properties stolen, etc. Dixon, from all the responses that I have read, shows compasion to the tragic "Long Walk" to Bosque Redondo which consisted of about 32 segments of which Kit Carson was leader of only one which by passed Santa Fe without a single loss of Indian.

"For a long time past the Navajoe [sic] Indians have murdered and robbed the people of New Mexico. Last winter when eighteen of their chiefs came to Santa Fe to have a talk, they were warned, -- and were told to inform their people, -- that for these murders and robberies the tribe must be punished, unless some binding guarantees should be given that in [the] future these outrages should cease. No such guarantees have yet been given: But on the contrary, additional murders, and additional robberies have been perpetrated upon the persons and property of unoffending citizens. It is therefore ordered that Colonel CHRISTOPHER ["KIT"] CARSON, with a proper military force proceed without delay to a point in the Navajoe country known as Pueblo Colorado [now Ganado, Arizona], and there establish a defensible Depot for his supplies and Hospital; and thence to prosecute a vigorous war upon the men of this tribe until it is considered at these Head Quarters that they have been effectually punished for their long continued atrocities."

Brigadier General, James H. Carleton,
General Order No. 15, June 15th 1863,

"‚€¶all those Navajoes who claimed not to have murdered and robbed the inhabitants must come in [surrender] and go to the Bosque Redondo [a concentration camp at Fort Sumner, on the Pecos River, in east central New Mexico], where they would be fed and protected until the war was over."

Brigadier General, James H. Carleton,
letter to Lieutenant Colonel J. Francisco Chavez, June 23rd 1863,

06-11-2005, 07:00 AM
On October 12, 1862, Carson got some blunt orders from Carleton: ‚€œAll Indian men of the tribe [Mescalaros] are to be killed whenever and wherever you can find them. The women and children will not be harmed, but you will take them prisoner.‚€� Carson did not conduct a war of extermination, however. There was a clash or two, but most of the Mesaleros soon surrendered to Carson, and by March 1863 more than 400 of them were living at the Bosque Redondo.

The actual evidence shows Carson with a capacity to develop deeper understandings of Indians through continuous re-evaluation of conditions on the ground. In the end he moves from a policy merely of the frontier law of retaliation, to one of preservation. In an extraordinary example of this growth, Carson develops and recognizes American moral and ethical responsibility toward Indians, stating that by ‚€œdispossessing them of their country we assume their stewardship.‚€�
By not imposing upon Carson the values of the late twentieth century, we are able to understand that he and his contemporaries discussed only two scenarios for the Indian future. Either the Plains and other western tribes were to be made extinct by inevitable clashes with ever increasing numbers of white settlers whose actions would destroy their food supply, or a way must be found to preserve them from the destruction resulting from white encroachment. His visit to California in the wake of the gold rush settlements, where he sensed an encirclement of the western Indians, further convinced him of the urgency for a humane solution before ‚€˜his‚€™ Indians would suffer the fate of the California tribes.

Conventional wisdom in Carson‚€™s had it that exposure to whites only left Indians open to adopting the worst vices of white settlers, especially alcoholism, or would lead to death from white man‚€™s diseases. Because of cultural inferiorities, as this wisdom went, Indians could not adopt white virtues because such virtues were tied to an agrarian milieu foreign to nomadic hunters. The concept of cultural relativism as espoused and even demanded by modern writers analyzing this period was nearly unknown. Strange cultures were simply viewed by white Americans as inferior, noble perhaps, but not worthy of preservation if the cost was too high. The currency of nineteenth century debate was really about how best to convert Indians to American culture or whether the effort itself was doomed because of a perceived Indian ‚€œinaptitude for civilization.‚€�

Carson was attempting to find a humane solution to saving Indian lives within the mainstream debate of his times.

His acceptance of the government‚€™s policy of placing Indians on protected reservations where they would learn agriculture and become ‚€œcivilized‚€�
His incorruptibility as an Indian agent at a time when most agents were excessively corrupt (frequently spending his own money when government funds were not forthcoming)
His efforts to replace corrupt Indian agents
His insistence upon saving the lives of all but the most hostile Indians
His unequivocal condemnation of the cowardly slaughter of women and children at Sand Creek by Chivington
All of this places him with the ‚€œassimilationists,‚€� those of his time who were for preserving Indians from the mass ‚€œextinctionists.‚€� Extinctionists viewed Indians as hopelessly unable to learn Anglo-Saxon ways and values and saw men like Carson as ‚€œsentimentalists. The extinctionists heeded the pseudo-science of the era that had ‚€˜proven‚€™ Indian intellectual inferiority.

Carson‚€™s first hand observations helped him grow into an awareness of the inhumanity of white and Mexican activity against Indians. His Congressional testimony reveals his greater condemnation of settler depredations upon Indians. He emphatically rejected the ‚€œonly good Indian is a dead one‚€� attitudes of Generals Sherman, Sheridan and many settlers. Instead Carson advocated complete separation of the races by removal of recalcitrant Indians to reservations as far from settlements as possible, where they would have a chance over time to adapt and survive.

Such a removal was, in Carson‚€™s view, the only alternative to ‚€œutter ruin.‚€� This made force justifiable in order to deny subsistence, sanctuary and security to hostiles who opposed removal. Yet, he always made crystal clear distinctions between Indians opposed to his policies and others who were his allies, friends, and even his adopted children and wives. Such distinctions were not common in his time, and belie the notion of Carson as Indian hater.

During the Navajo campaign many innocents who surrendered as a result of destruction of their crops and animals ended up perishing from Army policies including the notorious 1864 Long Walk to the Bosque Redondo. Here Carson has been condemned by history, but in fact he was not in charge of the walk and was on leave for a major portion of it. Further, upon his return he raised a fuss about the general conditions and lack of food for the Navajo people. Yet, while he demonstrated little concern either for the tribes‚€™ own wishes or attachments to their ancestral lands, to charge Carson and General James Carleton with activities analogous to Genghis Khan or Hitler, as has been done, ignores actions like Carson‚€™s protests, and Carleton‚€™s putting his own soldiers on limited rations in order to feed those in his charge, and not accepting the surrender of those he could not feed. Clearly, Carson never had or ever saw his orders as a ‚€œlicense to kill‚€� and did his utmost to follow a ‚€œhumane course‚€� as he understood it.

Dunlay responds to the charge that Carson was a ‚€˜company man,‚€™ serving his government as a good soldier by helping to dispossess tribes of their ancestral lands. The evidence tells another story, one of a man who even in his dying days traveled the long distance to Washington, leaving a pregnant wife and a child, to convey his vision of setting aside lands for the Utes. These lands were to be respected by whites in order to give at least one generation time for a transformation of lifestyle. He has also been charged with being too much in awe of better educated and more articulate superiors, but he often criticized them when they revealed attitudes betraying gross misunderstandings of Indians. He spent his mature years, in the words of Dunlay, ‚€œtrying to avert conflict, moderating disputes, recovering stolen animals, distributing food to Indians, and repeatedly seizing the opportunity to make peace‚€¶‚€�

Dunlay‚€™s Carson, in the final analysis, should be judged by how he grew into his role as the most frequently consulted frontiersman of his era. Carson‚€™s own words show him far out in front of most of his contemporaries in his humanity towards those being dispossessed. Much of this growth came about in middle age, a time of life when many refuse to reassess attitudes and become set in their ways. His relationships with Indians, even when apparently brutal, were never simple, were always nuanced, and should not be labeled in a facile manner as a supposed blind, irrational prejudice.

While he could not see any other solution than the reservation system, neither could many others of his time. Perhaps he was not a hero, but, as the author points out, he did embody classical western heroic traits. He traveled over long distances while battling valiantly as a warrior, he had an unblemished reputation for integrity and plain speaking, and he always comported himself with honor in the eyes of both friends and foe. As Edwin Sabin writes in his 1914 biography of Carson, ‚€œKit Carson was not a great man, nor a brilliant man. He was a great character; and if it was not his to scintillate, nevertheless he shone with a constant light.‚€� Dunlay‚€™s scrupulously researched and thoroughly footnoted examination of Carson‚€™s legacy has brought him back to his rightful place in western American settlement history.

06-12-2005, 06:40 PM
Here we go again quoting books! I can imagine all the good things who have to quote about Columbus. Anyway, I am full blooded Apache no not half or quarter, full blooded. As I stated earlier this book you are quoting is someone's opinion not always the truth. You have your standpoint and I have mine. I told Diane to go to some Native American forums and find out what they have to say about Carson the Indian killer. It is upsetting to see Trinidad treating Kit Carson as an icon. He is posted all over Trinidad city vehicles, parks, etc. which is paid for by the tax payers. How would you feel, you as the tax payer paying for pictures and statues of Geronimo placed all over town. Now he was a hero to my people. Put yourself in our shoes.

06-13-2005, 12:59 AM
Dear southernsun, "You have your standpoint and I have mine" this is exactly what Dixon has said in other words like "opinion" and "being open minded". You stated "If Kit Carson was such a great fighter for the Native Americans why do my ancestors dislike him so much?".

I just finished reading a story written by Geronimo of his life from boyhood to his present day. Geronimo states that his first war against the Mexicans was for revenge on the killings of his mother, wife, Alope, and their three children in Mexico. After that he craved to continue wars with Mexico. Geronimo also states that many of his own people did not wish to fight with him. Geronimo througout his story gives no reference to "Kit" Carson. Geronimo was from the Bedonkohe Apache Tribe, his grandfather, Maco, was chief until his death. I don't see how your ancestors would hate "Kit" Carson if Geronimo didn't. If Geronimo is your hero, I would like to give you a quote from Geronimo and by the way above San Carlos Reservation in Arizona is a place called Geronimo which is home to Geronimo.

"Since my life as a prisoner has begun I have heard the teachings of the white man's religion, and in many respects believe it to be better than the religion of my fathers. However, I have always prayed, and I believe that the Almighty has always protected me."

"Believing that in a wise way it is good to go to church, and that associating with Christians would improve my character, I have adopted the Christian religion. I believe that the church has helped me much during the short time I have been a member. I am not ashamed to be a Christian, and I am glad to know that the President of the United States is a Christian, for without the help of the Almighty I do not think he could rightly judge in ruling so many people. I have advised all of my people who are not Christians, to study that religion, because it seems to me the best religion in enabling one to live right."

Source: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/B/geronimo/geroni5.htm

I don't think you should be upset that "Kit" Carson is a icon in Trinidad, after all he lived and died in Las Animas area. He may still have descendants as his oldest son, William Carson married Pasquala Tobin, daughter of his best friend, Tom Tobin. How would you feel if your ancestors were being torn apart on the internet? Here in San Diego we have a Kit Carson Park and it seems not to bother anyone here. I also enjoyed watching the TV series of Kit Carson. Geronimo became a icon at the St. Louis Fair, he made money there, had fun and his wish was "I wish all Indians could go to St. Louis". Geronimo died having no hatred as you can see from his quotes. We all have ancestors that died during various types of wars and it is sad.


06-13-2005, 06:54 AM
Perception is in the eye of the beholder...

Not unlike the Spanish Armada where there was a Spanish account and an English account; each account swayed to be self serving - the truth lies (no pun intended) somewhere in the middle.

"Ironically, in recent years Kit has been stigmatized as a wanton killer and brutal oppressor of Indians. In his day, he was regarded as an Indian lover. General Sherman once commented that the Indians trusted Kit Carson above all other white men, including the President."

Draw your own conclusion. The fact remains that Kit Carson was and will remain to be an icon in Trinidad area history.

06-26-2005, 12:26 AM
Well hell lets make Billy the Kid an icon too! And Osama!!!

quote:Originally posted by DoubleBarrel

Perception is in the eye of the beholder...

Not unlike the Spanish Armada where there was a Spanish account and an English account; each account swayed to be self serving - the truth lies (no pun intended) somewhere in the middle.

"Ironically, in recent years Kit has been stigmatized as a wanton killer and brutal oppressor of Indians. In his day, he was regarded as an Indian lover. General Sherman once commented that the Indians trusted Kit Carson above all other white men, including the President."

Draw your own conclusion. The fact remains that Kit Carson was and will remain to be an icon in Trinidad area history.

06-27-2005, 11:32 AM
Dear Southernsun, here is the meaning of the word icon.
Pronunciation: 'I-"kän
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin, from Greek eikOn, from eikenai to resemble
Date: 1572
1 : a usually pictorial representation
2 : [Late Greek eikOn, from Greek] : a conventional religious image typically painted on a small wooden panel and used in the devotions of Eastern Christians
3 : an object of uncritical devotion
4 : Emblem - Symbol <the house became an icon of 1860's
residential architecture ‚€”Paul Goldberger>
5 a : a sign (as a word or graphic symbol) whose form
suggests its meaning
b : a graphic symbol on a computer display screen that
suggests the purpose of an available function

Dixon's and DoubleBarrel's postings have been written with an open mind, showing no bashing and just trying to help the original poster from drawing conclusions before gathering the facts.

Billy the Kid broke many laws. However, he is an icon in the eyes of some people.

Osama, well we all know what he has done and is still
promoting terrorism, but, he is an icon to his people and all others that believe in terrorism.

Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson was a paid military soldier more deserving to be an icon not just for Trinidad but also for New Mexico and California. Which he is! His military service was performed not as an outlaw or terrorist, but, for his country.

You have to remember that the Pueblo Peoples where here prior to the Navajos (Dine) migrating to this country from Alaska and Canada. Known at that time as the Athabaskan speakers. Give this a thought, how did the Pueblo Peoples feel with this invasion..................

In short, be at peace; have no hatred; we cannot change history; we can only make the future better.


07-11-2005, 11:06 AM
Thought I would give my 2 cents. I am a descendant of Sitting Bull. Kit Carson was no worse than any white or red living in that time. The invasion of the white man did not come because of Kit Carson. He was a soldier of the United States. He carried out his duties above and beyond the expectations of his superiors. His legacy nor any of the early explorers/military men should not be that of murderer or scoundrel but of war hero who served his country long and proud. Just like Sitting Bull was a hero to his people yet many see him only as a killer. The best product of all this conversation is that because of these early hero's we as UNITED STATES Citizens have the ability and right to pick a side! Trinidad is what it is. We have all seen the Western movies depict a town called "Hole in the Wall"...when you see that depiction it is often very close to what Trinidad was early on. Don't just envision a log store with a Cigar Indian out front, place was a very major city. Along with that clearly came suffering. While we condemn all who defiled my native ancestors rights we have to remember why we have freedom. Freedom is never free. Not for Sitting Bull, Geronimo, Kit Carson, Lewis and Clark, George Custer or us today. When we begin to think in terms of peace today and forgive what we can do nothing about will the ugly face of racisim begin to fade.

12-08-2006, 04:37 PM
Having been asked to check this posting, I decided to put in my Buffalo nickel. First I agree with Southernsun My grandparents (paternal and maternal) did not like Mr. Carson, and stated that he was a hypocrite. How Mr. Carson behaved in Taos, Did not necessarily mean that he behaved the same way out of the Taos area. I have found that Half-breeds tend to side with the White side on most issues concerning the two races ( I call them Apples). I see it with my own children. The reason for that is the educational system, It’s one sided. Full-bloods have their own truths as they see the events. It really all boils down to propaganda. The dominating has the last word. No disrespect but, Mr. Carson was out for Mr. Carson, as he did have a Political agenda.. We have to remember also that he fathered many children in different tribes in our race. I guess we could call him "Johnny Apple seed"

Excerpt from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carson and his troopers met a combined force of Kiowa, Comanche, and Cheyenne numbering over 1,500 at the ruins of Adobe Walls. In what is known as the Battle of Adobe Walls, the Native force led by Dohäsan made several assaults on Carson's forces which were supported by ten mountain howitzers. Carson inflicted heavy losses on the attacking warriors before burning the Indians' camp and lodges and returning to Fort Bascom. A few days later, Colonel John M. Chivington led U.S. troops in a massacre at Sand Creek. Chivington boasted that he had surpassed Carson and would soon be known as the great Indian killer. When the Civil War ended, and with the Indian campaigns successfully concluded, Carson left the army and took up ranching, finally settling in Fraksvill, Colorado. He is buried in Taos, NM. I saw no mention of Carson’s legend and Trinidad. As for racism, read The Great Law of Peace, New World Roots of American Democracy. by David Yarrow © September 1987

12-08-2006, 04:39 PM
Where have you been? we have missed you and your peaceful ways on the forum.

12-08-2006, 04:58 PM
Buddyd has been sending smoke signals Trinidad.:)

Esther Deaguero Welp

12-08-2006, 04:59 PM
Now I am curious to find out how Ms. Andrades research went ! This is a fascinating dialogue. I have Native American ancestory as well and I have always believed that without having lived during that time of our ancestors, we cannot currently judge the character of the men and women who settled in this particular area and uprooted Mexicans and Native Americans. With that said, the alternative is to observe what historians wrote, not simply persons who wrote books expressing their opinion. I have higher regard for educated and recognized historians and that is where I would go to research historical facts. However, that doesn't mean people who lived during that time period should be discounted as to their personal opinions, which I'm hoping some of the more prominent historians should have taken into account.

12-08-2006, 06:28 PM
I would like to bring to everyone's attention that we do have members of the forum that descend from Christopher "Kit" Carson and his wife, Maria Josefa Jaramillo and their extended families. Please show them the same respect as you would want them to show towards your ancestors.

12-08-2006, 08:13 PM
To add to what Dodie said, "Respect" in your replies should be of the foremost importance on this list.

The Trinidad area is one of the most diverse areas in the U.S.

Excluding the different tribes of American Indians, their many languages, and many distinct dialects the Trinidad area is comprised of peoples, and their ancestors from approximately 32 different countries, speaking 27 different languages.

A very diverse group indeed!

12-09-2006, 06:35 AM
Welcome back Buddyd, hope you stay with us. threelazyl

12-09-2006, 10:52 AM
buddyd,I am glad to see you are back with us also.