Rhetoric and Interpretation: the Conestoga Massacre as a Decisive Act of Genocide
Historians have debated whether the term genocide is appropriate terminology for what happened to Native Americans. While it cannot be disputed that millions died as a direct result of government involvement, it is pedantically argued that the United States government did not “intend to kill” Native Americans by way of starvation, slavery, and scalping. Although there are more technically correct terms that could be used to classify these events based on officially documented government objectives, it is imperative that we as historians do not stop at a single (biased and disproportionately powerful) source when analyzing historical data. This project explores the events and responses of the Conestoga Massacre as a decisive act of genocide, arguing that the term is both appropriate and necessary for the majority of government affairs involving Native Americans. The project will also explain how not using the term is, in itself, an act of erasure.