Historical Accuracy

Posted By BrokenClaw on April 18, 2007

I received an email from someone who questioned a particular section of my Otoe-Missouria History page. I recreated our email dialogue here:

S. Foust wrote:

Access Geneology internet site article on Otoe history says that French explorer LaSalle in 1680 met 2 Otoe Chiefs in present day Illinois. Those chiefs told LaSalle of journeying far enough west to fight white men on horses, who were obviously Spaniards. This is 40 years before your claim on BrokenClaw that the earliest account of the Otoes battling Spaniards was in 1720… It appears from your bio that you have never lived in the Plains States or even the Midwest. I have to question the accuracy of your information since you have little real contact here… I am a very historically knowledgable person, as is my mother. Neither of us have ever heard of Spanish explorers coming east to the Missouri River. I think you are mistaken. What are your sources? You should provide them on the site, so they can be double checked.

BrokenClaw wrote:

Thank you for your interest. If you revisit my Otoe-Missouria history page you will see that I have always listed my references. In fact, I have a link to my References page on the very first line of the history page, and there is a link button on the left side of the page labeled “References” [I have since redesigned the website, so the References link is at the top of the page].

My reference is a transcript of an article published by the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1923, which is a translation of an article published in Paris in 1920, which is based on manuscripts from 1744, 1753, and 1755, the title of which is “Massacre by the Otoe Tribe of Spanish Military Expedition on August 11, 1720″. In my article, I describe it as the “earliest known account of the Otoe and Missouria engaging Europeans in battle…” I describe the location as the “Missouri Valley”, not the banks of the Missouri River as you assumed. The Platte River, as a tributary of the Missouri River, is part of the Missouri Valley. I have seen the Access Genealogy article you described. It may be a matter of semantics, but I would hardly characterize that one sentence as “an account” of a battle. However, if such an account exists, and if you can provide me with the source of their information, I would be glad to correct my article.

I clearly state on my website that I grew up in Pennsylvania. But I find it disturbing that you would question the accuracy of my articles based on that fact. I don’t write fiction. My articles are based on research using the references which I cite, unlike your Access Genealogy page which lists no references. I don’t write about contemporary sociology or politics of the tribe, so the fact that I don’t live there gives me a more unbiased view of the topics which I do investigate. In summary, I am always open to new information and the correction of misinformation. However, you were totally wrong about me not citing my sources.

S. Foust wrote:

It was not that I did not notice your references, I questioned their accuracy. You said there was a battle between the Spanish and the Otoe on August 11, 1720. The North Platte River rises in Wyoming and flows about 700miles across NE. The battle you refer to took place on the Platte at present day Schuyler, NE south of Columbus, NE on August 14, 1720 according to the NE State Hist Soc. This is over 100 miles from the MO River. The proper term when referring to the Missouri River and its tributaries is Missouri River Basin.

BrokenClaw wrote:

Okay, so you purposely misrepresented my citation of references in your first message. And now you misquoted me again. I never said the battle took place on August 11, I merely quoted the title of the published account. In my article, I only say that it took place in the year 1720. I will grant you that river basin is probably a better description. But I still don’t understand why you discredit my sources in favor of an article which posts no sources. Did you write it?

S. Foust wrote:

If you are going to maintain that battle as the first contact between the Otoe & Europeans and ignore the LaSalle reference, so be it. But get it right.

BrokenClaw wrote:

Once again, you are misreading my writings. I never said that the 1720 battle was the “first contact”. I said it was the “earliest known account of… battle.” I didn’t say that it was the first contact. I didn’t say that it was the first battle. I said that it was the first “known account” of a battle. And again, what is the reference for the La Salle statement?

S. Foust wrote:

Whatever info you received from Franklin Co that claimed to be about the Otoes, I would question. The Otoes were never anywhere near there! Those are the plain facts. But you would not know that since you live in PA… Also, people from the east do not appreciate the vast emptiness of the prairie. If you want to write about your people and be thought of as an Indian historian, you need to be in contact with the tribal headquarters OK… If you want an acurate history of your tribe, it is going to be found listening to the Otoe Oral Historian and having someone translate every word for you, not at the University of Delaware! I suggest you come to Oklahoma & visit your people, and come to KS & NE to spend time here and see where they lived.

BrokenClaw wrote:

I would not expect you to be familiar with my entire website, so I’ll explain it to you. The “History of the Otoe-Missouria” is only one article. The main focus of the website is the genealogy of both sides of my father’s family: the Otoe-Missouria of Oklahoma and the Christian Munsee of Kansas. My genealogy databases contain over 2700 individuals. The references from Franklin County, KS, apply to the section about the Christian Munsee, who lived and live in Franklin County, KS. The references from the University of Delaware apply to the section about the history of the Delaware Indians. And keep in mind that a book is a book, regardless of library in which it sits. Now with regard to your other false assumptions… I never said that I live in Pennsylvania; I said I “grew up in Pennsylvania”. I am grown now; I no longer live there. You are also wrong about my familiarity with the plains. I have, in fact, lived in Oklahoma, for a time with my grandparents on the Otoe-Missouria Reservation, and I attended and graduated from the University of Oklahoma. I have traveled across Kansas and Nebraska several times, so I am familiar the “vast emptiness of the prairie.” Next, I never claimed to be a historian. I simply wrote an article about my family’s history for my family. In my professional life, I also wrote an article about the pharmacology of catecholamine-induced renal perfusion. That doesn’t make me a pharmacologist, either. I sincerely hope that more of the oral history of the tribe is written down for future generations. Once again, if you look at my References page, you will see that I personally own copies of the published works. If you know of any other, let me know. I’m certain that others, like the Arkeketa family, have important family histories, but as far as I can tell, they have never shared it in a book or digital format.

Finally, I’m still waiting for you to give me the reference for that La Salle incident… Oh, wait, I found it myself… at the University of Delaware library. I read the original narrative from La Salle himself (so I hope you don’t question its accuracy), in French, and I have decided not to change my statement about the 1720 incident, except to edit the location from the Missouri Valley, as noted above. I also added the 1680 contact with La Salle to my history page, since I now have a reference to cite. Please read my complete assessment of the La Salle incident.

I have not received any further response from Ms. Foust.


One Response to “Historical Accuracy”

  1. Chewhonecoul says:

    The guns from the spanish we later used on the US cavalry at least thats what my grandfather said.

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