On Wings Of Eagles

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lessons From The Cyprus Hill Massacre

James 1:13-15 (New International Version)
 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

John Evans was in a foul mood. So was his gang of Green River Renegades. Their horses had been stolen, presumably by Indians, and someone was going to pay! Trailing the supposed thieves, they entered Canada in what is known today as the province of Saskatchewan, and ended up a few kilometers from Fort Farwell, a whiskey trading post. Here the trail suddenly went cold.

John Evans and his gang were renowned wolfers, killing packs of wolves for their lucrative hides by attracting them to poisoned buffalo carcasses. Now they were looking for revenge and were blaming Indians for all of their woes.

The wolfers decided to stay at Fort Farwell for the night. Sleep was far from their mind however, and thoughts of vengeance, enhanced by alcohol, would keep them up until morning. Meanwhile they acquired the information from the proprietor, Abel Farwell, that there was a group of Assiniboines Indians camping just upriver.

During their drunken stupor, the wolvers met a trader by the name of George Hammond who was blaming the Assiniboines for the recent theft of his horse. He claimed that some Indian had claimed a reward for returning his mount, "probably the one who stole my horse in the first place." He had paid him with a bottle of whiskey, but continued to blame the Indian for the horse theft.

Early in the morning George Hammond found out that his horse was again missing. The Green River Renegades decided it was time for revenge. They climbed on their horses and off they went, heading for the Assiniboine camp. They had barely left Fort Farwell that someone found George Hammond's horse. It had simply wandered away looking for greener pastures, but the wolvers wouldn't be deterred.

The confrontation between chief Little Soldier and John Evans did not go well. The Indians had been drinking whiskey all through the night as well. The whiskey was far from being pure. It was diluted with water, mixed with tobacco juice for colour, and then laudanum, an opium substance, was added, along with Jamaican ginger or pepper to cause a throat-burning effect. By diluting the whiskey, more profits could be made. Nevertheless, it was enough to make any man sick, and most of the Indians were addicted to it.

The wolfers opened fired and succeeded in butchering thirty Assiniboines, thanks to their high-powered rifles. Only one of the wolfers, Ed Grace, died of an arrow in his chest. Still enraged, the wolfers cut off the chief's head, mounted it on a pole, and paraded it through the plundered camp as a warning to other natives. Although no horses were found in the camp, other than a few small ponies, the Green River Renegades returned to the United States, boasting of their kill.

News of the Cyprus Hill massacre reached the Prime Minister of Canada, John A. Macdonald. His whole cabinet was shocked, and fear of Indian reprisals was high. Canada did not want to end up with the same types of Indian wars that were being fought at the time in the United States. In addition there was concern over the fact that alcohol was ruining the lives of the native populations in the west, and Macdonald also feared losing the western Canadian territories to the Americans. A police presence had to be established in the West, and the North-West Mounted Rifles, renamed the North-West Mounted Police a few months later, was established. This police force had an amazing impact on Western Canada. Natives were again safe. Alcohol was banned, and some of the men of the Green River Renegades were brought to court. Due to insufficient evidence however, the cases were dismissed.

It is amazing how sin can quickly develop into a blazing fire. Blaming others can lead to revenge. The desire for revenge can lead to murder, and the worst of all the consequences of murder, it leads to boasting. Clear logic seems hampered where sin reigns. One action leads to another, and before we know it, we are facing the consequences of a huge disaster. Families are broken up, addictions are developed, jobs are lost and loneliness ends up in despair.

Instead of blaming others, isn't it time we own up to our own actions?

Dear Lord we pray that we would take responsibilities for our own actions. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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