Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Don Solomono, the Jewish Indian Chief

From the earliest contact between North American Indians and white European settlers, the Europeans held the upper hand. Almost unremittingly, the Europeans imposed their idea of private ownership of land on the Native Americans, obtaining it from them by purchase, stealth and war. Virtually every Indian tribe in North America found its contacts with white settlers painful, if not fatal, and few Indians trusted or respected, much less loved, the white men and women they knew.

One exception to this generalization was Solomon Bibo, a white trader who won the trust and affection of the Acoma Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. In 1888, "Don Solomono," as he was known to the Acomas, became governor of the Acoma Pueblo, the equivalent of chief of the tribe. Remarkably, the Acomas asked the United States to recognize Bibo as their leader. Even more remarkable is that Bibo was a Jew.

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