Truth is definitely stranger than fiction.
There are some things that have happened in human history that, even if an author could dream them up, no one would ever buy.
Some of them, as these events prove, are completely dark, showing the absolute depravity of humans, corporations, governments, or all of the above – and these are niche enough that even the most avid of history buffs will probably learn a little something!
1. Just ask Cleopatra.
In my family’s region in Africa they used to carry out the d**th penalty by snakebite.
Just a snakebite to each ankle, and then letting the man spend his remaining time with his family before he d**d (under supervision).
I thought it sounded sort of humane in a way, like our lethal injections, but apparently they say it was one of the most horrific ways that existed
2. The stuff of nightmares.
The Ideal Maternity Home here in Canada. From the 1920s till the 1940s, they took in babies from unwed mothers and they were selling them especially to desperate jewish families in New Jersey (adoption was illegal in the US back then).
It was later discovered that the people who ran this business would starve the “unmarketable” babies by feeding them only molasses and water (the babies would last around 2 weeks on this diet).
They put the corpses in wooden box often used for butter and that’s why the victims are called the Butterbox Babies. The boxes were either buried on the property or at sea or burned in the home furnace. The parents who gave their child to this maternity home would go back and see how their child is doing but were told the child has d**d when in fact it had been sold to adopting parents.
Between 400 and 600 d**d in that home and at least a thousand were adopted but sadly, the adopted babies often suffered from diseases because of the unsanitary conditions and lack of care at the home.
3. Hard to blame him.
The sad case of Ota Benga. He was a “pygmy” boy from the Congo who was essentially captured and brought to the USA to be displayed in freak shows. He had undergone tribal customs such as having his teeth filed into points before his capture.
He eventually got out of the carnivals and dreamed of returning to Africa, then WWI happened, making the trip impossible for the foreseeable future. He committed s**cide by gunshot.
4. That whole thing stinks.
The Cadaver Synod
Basically the pope had a previous Pope’s corpse exhumed so the corpse could stand trial for something made up. So they dug up his bloated 7 month old corpse and convicted him, retroactively nullifying his papacy. Then they dumped his bloated and convicted corpse in a river.
The people got pissed and overthrew the pope, who was strangled in prison. The next pope came along and had the corpse collected from the river and its papacy posthumously reinstated.
897 was a crazy year.
5. Why was there no fire gear?
The d**th of Roger Williamson, at the 1973 Dutch Grand Prix.
In the 1970s era of Formula 1, the cars weren’t far off from being an overpriced metal coffin on wheels, surrounded by highly flammable fuel, and during the Dutch Grand Prix, this became painfully obvious indeed.
Roger Williamson crashed out after a tyre puncture, and his car came to rest upside down, with him trapped inside. He was not seriously hurt by the crash, but then the fuel tank ignited and the car burst into flames. Another driver named David Purley was behind Williamson when the crash occurred, and he saw the whole crash unfold. Purley stopped his car on the other side of the track, ran across an active race track, and proceeded to try and save Williamson’s life.
This is where the dark part of it comes in, and depending on your sensibilities, downright outrageous and disgraceful. None of the trackside marshals had any fireproof equipment, which prevented any of them from helping Purley to right the burning car; they also had a grand total of one, yes one fire extinguisher between them, which was incapable of putting out the flames. Additionally, not a single other driver who saw the calamity stopped to help, despite Purely’s frantic waving to them, to try and get anyone to assist in saving Williamson’s life.
Meanwhile, Race Control decided not to halt the race despite a flaming wreck being present on-track, and it took almost 10 minutes before the fire engine arrived on-site, by which point, Williamson had asphyxiated from the smoke and flames. As soon as the fire was out, they simply put a blanket over the burned-out car and continued racing. Later on, other drivers and the race controllers would claim that they assumed Williamson’s car was actually Purley’s, and that there was no-one at risk at that time; something that the many hundreds of people within the grandstands would strongly disagree with, there.
Yeah, Williamson burned to d**th right in front of a grandstand packed with spectators, who all got a front row seat to watching Williamson d** before their very eyes.
So there you have it; a young, promising driver slowly being burnt alive over the course of 10 minutes; a second driver desperately trying in vain to save his life; a group of marshals woefully underequipped for the job; indifferent drivers; incompetent race control and a disaster which shook Formula 1 to its core.
As a result of this debacle, changes were made to try and avoid this type of event occurring again in the future. The biggest change was the mandate that marshals should wear fireproof clothing, and it was also noted that drivers were more willing to stop at accident sites to assist in rescuing fellow drivers; This was most clearly seen during the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring Nordschleife, where Guy Edwards, Harald Ertl, Brett Lunger and Arturo Merzario all pulled over to assist in getting Niki Lauda out of his burning Ferrari, after the infamous crash that took him out of the German, Austrian and Dutch Grands Prix.
6. A bit of survivor’s guilt.
The New London School Explosion. On the afternoon of March 18, 1937, the shop teacher at the school in New London, TX turned on an electric sander. Unbeknownst to him, there was a massive natural gas leak under the school. The sander sparked, which ignited the gas and caused a massive explosion that k**led almost 300 students and teachers. It was absolutely horrific. The force of the explosion was so great that a two ton block of concrete crushed a car parked 200 feet away. This event is actually why natural gas has a smell now. They started adding it after the explosion so that something like this couldn’t ever happen again.
My grandfather was actually one of the survivors of the explosion. He never talked about it, even to his own family, so I didn’t really know too much about it (other than the fact that he’d survived) until after his d**th. Toward the end of his life, he’d suffered a series of strokes that left him pretty physically incapacitated, so my dad had given him a voice-activated tape recorder and suggested maybe he could record his memoirs for his grandkids to listen to someday. As it turns out, he did. We have hours and hours of cassette tapes of him telling the story of his (actually very interesting) life, including a big section on the New London school explosion. For the sake of everyone’s privacy, I’ll call my grandfather Papa and use an initial for anyone else.
Papa was in eighth grade when it happened, in his English class at about 3:00 PM on a Thursday afternoon. At the beginning of class, Papa and his buddy T had been messing around and being loud in the back of the classroom (as eighth grade boys often do). His teacher, Miss M, had enough of their disruptions and made Papa switch seats with another student. He moved into the girl’s desk in the front row, and she moved back into his desk in the back of the room.
When the school exploded, they were taking a test on the book Ivanhoe. Papa was knocked out for a short time, and when he woke up, he couldn’t see anything because the dust was so thick. He looked down and saw that his pencil had blown clear through his hand. When the dust cleared, he saw that the whole back of the room was gone. I won’t go into details, but there were bodies (and parts of bodies) everywhere. The students in the front half of the room survived.
The students in the back half did not. That included Papa’s friend T and the little girl who’d been forced to take Papa’s desk because of his misbehavior at the beginning of class. If he hadn’t been acting up, he would have been k**led and she would have lived. He carried the guilt of her d**th until the day he d**d.
Papa’s classroom was on the second floor. There wasn’t any way to get to the room other than the open cavity of the explosion. After the few seconds of initial shock wore off, he and another classmate jumped into action. They were the only two kids in the class who hadn’t been badly injured. They made a tourniquet out of a sock and a shoelace for a girl with a severe injury to her arm and dug out their teacher, who was alive, but badly injured. By then, men were running up underneath the hole, so Papa and the other boy started lowering the injured to them. Then those who could walk, including Papa, climbed down. He ran off to look for his older brother, B, to see if he was OK.
As it turned out, B had been supposed to be in Geometry class. However, he and his buddy had snuck out to go fishing. The explosion happened as they were opening the door to head out to the parking lot. The force of the blast sent them tumbling head over foot across the lot. They were both banged up and dazed, but they survived. The rest of their Geometry class was k**led. I don’t know that there’s a moral in the fact that both my grandfather and his brother survived because they were misbehaving that day. I do know that it weighed very heavily on both of them for he rest of their lives.
There’s a lot more to his story about the day and the aftermath (most of it absolutely horrific), but I won’t go into all of it here. A few small tidbits though:
Papa and the boy who helped him rescue the other students from their classroom were both awarded medals and certificates of valor for their actions that day.
Nearly every family in town lost a child – some all of their children. I’m sure you can imagine the extreme toll this took on everyone’s mental health. Papa described New London in the months following the explosion as a “town with no children.” To help with the healing process, the oil companies actively recruited families with kids to transfer in, so that there was some sense of normalcy when school started again in the fall.
Papa had played French horn in the school band. However, when school started up again, he was asked to switch to trumpet, as the entire trumpet section had been k**led.
A few years later, my grandfather went on to fight in World War II, and he saw some of the worst conflict in the Pacific (including Peleliu and the liberation of Manila). But he said that nothing he saw during the war was ever as bad as what he saw the day of the explosion. I’m always amazed that more people don’t know about it. It was major international news at the time.
7. Color me not-shocked.
In the 1920’s, the Osage Indians (Oklahoma, USA) discovered one of the largest oil fields on earth. They went from being poor, to being the richest civilization on earth over night. Imagine Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk living on the same street. The Osage were building mansions, hiring servants, driving exotic cars, and the women were marrying white men as trophy husbands.
It wasn’t long before people started moving into town and exploiting them. Slowly, one by one, they began being murdered. By the end, hundreds had d**d. The men were hiring people to k**l their wives. Lawyers were drawing contracts to transfer oil rights and tricking the Osage into signing them. It was so crazy that it led to the birth of the FBI. This was one of their original investigations, and is still largely unsolved.
Martin Scorsese is currently writing/directing a movie about it. It’s going to be based on the book “K**lers of the Flower Moon” which is where I learned about it. Super interesting read.
8. Some things never change.
The San Francisco Plague of 1900-1904 was a terrible, scary time when the Black Plague was beginning to ravage San Francisco. California’s governor tried to suppress information about the outbreak and restrict any activities to curtail it because he feared economic damage to the state.
He even tried to get the doctor who was warning people about the outbreak fired. What information did get out was used against the Chinese residents as it was believed that it was a disease of the “unclean.”
Had it not been for the earthquake in 1906 that devastated the city, the plague outbreak would have probably been more remembered.
9. It’s always the scientists.
The Vipeholm Experiment.
Sweden are mostly known as a not very scary country. With good and mostly accessible dental care.
Hey, you are institutionalized and suffering and powerless – let’s make your teeth rot out of your skull. For uhhh science.
10. I wouldn’t put it past them.
During prohibition the government funded and lead an operation to release barrels of alcohol that they had poisoned to make people sick and shy away from bootleg liquor.
Lots of people ended up dying but people still drank more than ever.
11. If executions could be funny.
Anyone who’s familiar with Mary, Queen of Scots most likely knows that she was beheaded, but many people don’t know how she was beheaded. My APUSH teacher told my class this story and it’s probably one of the most simultaneously interesting, funniest, and saddest executions in history.
The first thing to note was that Mary wore a red dress rather than a white one for a very specific reason: after the execution of a royal or high-class person, commoners would often tear off blood-stained fabric from their clothing solely to flex that they got their hands on the blood of a noble. With red fabric, it would be difficult to see actual blood on the dress. Smart move on Mary’s end.
During the actual execution, it was said that Mary’s executioner was not very experienced and actually missed the initial swing, jamming the axe or whatever weapon they used into the back of her head rather than through her neck. This didn’t k**l her yet, though, and she instead made some sort of medieval olden-time exclamation that can be roughly translated to “godd**n!”
After the executioner was done, he picked up her head by the hair, not knowing it was a wig, and the head fell out and rolled onto the floor (thanks Plug_5 and moiochi for reminding me)
After Mary was properly k**led, her body was left for public viewing, but the audience was surprised to see her red dress start to rustle before allowing Mary’s small terrier dog to climb out from underneath. Tragically, the dog refused to leave the body and eventually passed away after staying at the same spot for a lengthy amount of time.
History buffs, please feel free to make any corrections as I heard this story a while ago and probably made a few errors in my recalling! 🙂
TL;DR: Mary, Queen of Scots avoided crazy memorabilia-savers at her execution with a very intelligent move, got shanked in the head during a failed attempt, the executioner dropped her head onto the floor, and had her dog in her dress with her the entire time
12. I’m sorry, what?
In the early 80’s, Bayer knowingly sold millions of dollars worth of HIV and hepatitis tainted medications to Asia and Latin America.
These countries didn’t have laws to prevent the proliferation of tainted drugs. Thousands of people d**d as a result.
It was hardly mentioned on any news platforms.
13. It’s pretty messed up.
The Radium Girls. In the 1920s, they worked at a watch company painting the hours on the watches using radium, a radioactive element that glows in the dark. They did this with no PPE and weren’t told radium is dangerous. Meanwhile, the chemists had full PPE and worked in a sealed environment.
Worse, they were instructed to lick the tip of the brush to make a very fine point. Some of them would paint their nails or their teeth with it for fun when they went out at night.
They would develop cancer whenever the paint touched, and many of them had such decay in their jaws that their mandibles had to be held on with bandages.
14. I think those passengers have suffered enough.
The Halifax Explosion.
Regarded by many as the biggest man-made explosion prior to the invention of the atomic bomb. A ship laden with explosives collided with another vessel in Halifax Harbour. The resulting explosion flattened much of the city’s downtown core, k**ling roughly 2,000 and injuring 9,000.
The blast is said to have temporarily displaced the water in the harbour, forming a tsunami that reached up to 15 metres high, surging over the wreckage of the waterfront.
The following day, Halifax was hit by a blizzard that dumped 40 cm of snow on top of the city, further complicating rescue efforts.
The city is also home to a cemetery where many victims of the Titanic were laid to rest. It is said that the body identification system developed at the time of the Titanic’s sinking in 1912 aided efforts to identify victims of the Halifax explosion in 1917.
15. Watch the movie, if you’ve got a strong stomach.
There’s a surprising amount of people that don’t know about the Rwanda genocide that happened pretty recently (like when Bill Clinton was president). Basically there were two “types” of Rwanda natives: the Hutus and Tutsis.
The Hutus believed the Tutsis were invaders of land that was theirs, and after the a**assination of the Rwandan leader (who was a Hutu), the Hutus were ordered to “chop down the tall trees” which meant k**l the Tutsis. The “differences” between Hutus and Tutsis were that Hutus were supposedly darker-skinned, shorter in stature, and had shorter faces. That’s why the Tutsis were called “tall trees.”
The events that followed k**led so many Tutsis, yet the UN was stingy to call it a genocide (they never like using that term because of its association with WWII and the Nazis). It wasn’t until very recently that the k**lings stopped. To this day, Hutus and Tutsis that survived the genocide speak at events side-by-side speaking about how terrible the events were.
16. I hope they paid for that guy’s therapy.
Once in the seventies, a film crew was filming an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man, and they were shooting at an amusement park fun house kind of thing.
A stage hand was moving what he thought was a prop wax figure on a noose, only for one arm to fall off, revealing human flesh and bone underneath.
After an autopsy, it was revealed to be the 60 something year old corpse of an old wild west outlaw that had been taxidermied to an extent.
17. So much h**e in the world.
The Cambodian Genocide. You could have been k**led just for wearing glasses, therefore being an intellectual (at least this was the Khmer Rouge logic). The prisoners were t**tured so badly that they tried to commit s**cide in every possible way, even by using some spoons.
The executions used to be like this: the prisoners were put on a straight line and to the second prisoner was given an object like a shovel or a hammer which he had to use to k**l the prisoner in front of him. Then, the same object was given to the third prisoners and the cycle would repeat until there was nobody alive except for the last prisoner on the line, who was then k**led by the guards.
Since many medics were k**led or sent to work as farmers, the local regime used child medics to conduct experiments on the prisoners: they used teenagers with no knowledge of western medicine to experiment on people without anesthesia. For example, they opened one person’s chest just to see his heart beating. Imho, this s**t is even worse than Unit 731.
18. Too many people got away with it.
The massacre of kalavrita. It is a village is Greece. The Germans entered it and rounded up all the male villagers in a field. They then shot them all with machine guns. After that they got the children and women and put them in the church.
When everyone was inside, they locked the doors and set fire to the church. Around 20 minutes into the burning, a German soldier couldn’t take it anymore and opened the doors. Around half of the people escaped the fire but the rest perished.
The German soldier was shot for this, and if you go to kalavrita today his name is on the memorial. No one was punished for this apart from the leader of the division, who I was told by my grandmother that he d**d in a gulag. But everyone else got away with it. It is sad that no one knows about this, as things like this happened all over Greece and Russia and Poland.
I only know about this because my Great grandmother was one who escaped in the church. This massacre was in retaliation for the villagers supporting the local resistance force, which had recently k**led about 10 nazis.
19. She starred in a season of American Horror Story.
Slave owner who t**tured her slaves in horrifying ways.
20. Who thinks of these things?
“Khuk Khi Kai,” or the “Chicken Poop Prison” in Thailand. Used by French forces to hold political prisoners (rebellious Thai people) in the Chanthaburi region.
The long-standing impacts of this much-feared t**ture are still felt in the region today – there’s a Thai saying for those who buck authority that roughly translates to “Be careful not to get caught in a chicken poop prison.” I learned about this prison from my parents who learned about it from theirs.
How it worked, was there was a small, 2-story prison. Bottom floor houses the prisoners, and the top floor is basically a huge chicken coop.
The grated floor/ceiling ensures that the chicken poop falls onto the prisoners below.
Apparently, even though the “maximum sentence” in Khuk Khi Kai was around a week, it was one of the most feared punishments there was.
21. I can’t believe more people don’t know.
The January 1945 sinking of the MV Wilhelm Gustloff. It was a German ship carrying fleeing Germans from the Eastern Front to the West through the Baltic Sea. It was sunk by the Soviet Navy shorty after setting sail.
The total d**th toll is unknown but estimated at over 9000 since there were so many stowaways. It is the worst maritime disaster ever, several times more than the Titanic.
It didn’t get nearly the press because they were the enemy so who cares, and the Nazi media certainly didn’t report it because they’re at the waning days of a war they’re badly losing so the last thing they need is more hits to their already sinking morale.
22. The face I am making right now.
Margaret Beaufort – mother of Henry VII (father of Henry VIII
She was married off at age 12 to Edmund (25) who was desperate to get her pregnant as quickly as he could. It was not unusual for members of the aristocracy to marry young. It was slightly more unusual, because of the risk to both mother and child, for them to get pregnant before the age of 14.
Edmund d**d of plague while Margaret was pregnant, she was widowed and alone and pregnant during war. The birth was a very difficult one and would scar her forever. For a time they believed that she and her unborn child would perish. Not only was she very young but she was also slight of stature and undeveloped for her age so it’s a wonder she even survived childbirth.
It was so difficult for her that she never became pregnant again over the rest of her years, despite remarrying two more times. It is widely believed that she was physically damaged during the childbirth and was unable to conceive again, but it’s also possible she was too traumatized to ever put herself in that situation again.
Either way, Margaret devoted herself to her son, calling him “my dearest and only desired joy in this world.”
23. I h**e these stories.
Mother and Baby homes here in Ireland. Most Irish people will know about this, but most people from other countries don’t.
Basically, mother and baby homes (or laundries) were places run by nuns where women would be sent if they got pregnant before marriage, and would do all the laundry from people who sent their dirty clothes to the homes until they gave birth.
During childbirth they would be provided with no real medical procedure, anaesthesia etc, and the nuns would often verbally a**se them during the process for being so sinful as to have s** before marriage.
When the baby was born, the umbilical cord was cut and that was the last contact the mother would have with the baby. Ever.
The nuns would only ever rarely let the baby live, and if they did it would be a**sed by the nuns it’s whole childhood for being the product of sin. But, most of the babies didn’t survive, and you would think, maybe, they would be k**led humanely. Nope. Dropped into a septic tank.
They’ve all been shut down now obviously, but they ran until the late 70s I believe. During excavations they would find the remains of around 300 newborn babies for each home.
I apologize if any of this is a little inaccurate, I will gladly correct myself if I’ve gotten something wrong.
24. I would think a quicker d**th would be welcome.
Use of the “Judas Cradle” for t**ture:
The Judas Cradle was a pyramid-shaped seat set up high where the victim would be seated on the pinnacle, while tied.
The pyramid point would penetrate the victim’s anus or vagina and the sheer weight and movement of the person would slowly help it penetrate more.
The t**turer would sometimes add weight to the victim’s legs, rock them, or add oil to the pyramid to increase the pain and quicken d**th.
The Children’s Blizzard. It occurred in January 1888 on an unseasonably warm day. The weather was nice and many school-kids were tricked into not wearing coats or jackets to school, some only in short sleeves.
While the kids were in class, the weather outside changed dramatically from warm and sunny at noon to dark and heavy like a thunderstorm, with heavy winds and visibility at 3 steps by 3 pm.
Children left school to go home and do their chores (this was in Minnesota) and were expected to milk the cows and do whatever else was involved in the family farm. But they got lost in the darkness and snow and the wind and many froze to d**th in their town, just yards from houses or other sources of refuge.
235 people, mostly children d**d.
26. Why the nuns get a bad rep.
Magdalene asylums, also known as Magdalene laundries.
Places of “reform” for women that didn’t fit the idea of a good upstanding citizen. The most well known ones were in Ireland. The women and girls were a**sed and mistreated by asylum staff, most of whom were nuns.
Mass graves, selling these women’s children to people in other countries, blocking any parental rights… There’s apparently at least one movie coming out, a lot of stories about it, and so many people sharing stories from their mothers and grandmothers.
27. Probably more we’ll never know about, too.
Human “experimentation” by Japanese Unit 731 during WWII, committed primarily against innocent Chinese civilians. Nothing I’ve ever heard of in my life, including in fiction, is darker than the horrors committed for years by Unit 731, a military biological and chemical weapons research division of the Japanese Imperial military.
There’s not enough room in a Reddit post to list half of it, but here’s a taste: Dissections of living babies, pregnant women, etc. without anesthesia (also known as a vivisection) usually after they had been deliberately exposed and left to suffer from horrible diseases, chemical and biological weapons, and so on. Freezing limbs off of victims. Horror-movie sadistic surgeries involving cutting off limbs and attaching them to the wrong sides of a victim, or removing organs and connecting the tubes back together without the organs to see what would happen, such as running the esophagus straight to the intestines with no stomach in between.
Not to mention the fact that the victims were routinely r**ed and t**tured for the sake of r**e and t**ture, without even the flimsy excuse of “science” being conducted.
And we’re talking about thousands upon thousands of victims, usually hapless Chinese civilians, political prisoners, POWs, and the homeless, over the course of years in huge facilities with thousands of staff committing these atrocities.
The icing on the cake? General MacArthur and the rest of the US government found out about it when they captured Japan — and they granted Unit 731 immunity for their war crimes so long as they share their findings with America and ONLY America. Many of the former Unit 731 members even went on to have very successful and profitable futures in Japan after the war.
28. Room for sheep.
Thousands of Scots were forcibly evicted from their homes, many were forcibly exported to Canada, the US or Australia, many who refused were massacred with whole villages of women & children r*ped, many d**d of starvation on the forced marches or from famine, all so they could farm sheep.
29. Why, though?
You know Jameson Whiskey?
Well a long time ago in like the 19th one of their family Heirs fed a little girl to cannibals.
Like legit went and bought a little girl in the Congo as a slave and brought her up to a cannibal tribe because he wanted to see them.
Sick f*ck drew pictures of it and s**t as it was happening.
Of course for years the family tried to bury the fact, and the stories and such. Discredit the witnesses. But the crazy bastard was happy to document the whole thing, his only rebuttal incase it reflected badly on him was that “he wanted to see if they would do it”
And his accounts matched up with the evidence witnesses had provided.
30. Rac**t history.
I wrote my undergraduate history thesis on human zoos at the 1893 and 1904 world’s fairs. Even people who are vaguely aware this was a thing may not remember that the US government specifically sponsored the “anthropology” department in 1904. It was organized so that fairgoers walked up a hill, and the people on display “evolved” from the most ape-like to the most civilized.
At the bottom of that hill were Pygmies from the Belgian Congo, at least one of whom had been “saved” from the infamous Force Publique when they sold him to a fair recruiter. After the fair, that recruiter took him “home” (to a village that had already been burned by the Belgians.) He begged the recruiter not to leave him there, so the recruiter took him to NYC and gave him to the American Museum of Natural History, who loaned him to the Bronx Zoo, which put him on display in the ape house. His name was Ota Benga, and he got out of the zoo after African-American church groups protested. He tried to build a life in America for over 10 years before he shot himself in 1916.
Farther up that hill were Ainu people from Japan, and a large contingent of Filipinos (the US had recently taken the Philippines as a colony). A few months after the fair closed, one of the Ainu wrote to someone they’d met in St. Louis to report that they’d made it home safely, and explain how they were spending all the money they’d made in tips on new livestock.
Continuing up the hill, there were also Native American people, including Geronimo, who was still being held as a “prisoner of war” by the US army (some 20 years after the Indian Wars were over.) In his memoirs, Geronimo writes about the soldiers taking him on the Ferris Wheel in order to make fun of him, and how he reclaimed the moment by teasing them right back.
Another Indian resident at the fair irked the fair governors by spending her tip money on a baby carriage for her kid. They thought it would be more “authentic” to carry him around on a board, but she liked the labor-saving carriage. She won that argument.
At the top of the hill was a “model Indian School,” of residential school infamy. The teenagers on display there were “proof” of how savages could be civilized into almost-white-passing specimens. The girls’ basketball team from that school competed against other teams that traveled to the fair and the girls were, in effect, world champions. When the fair was over they all got sent back to reservations or shipped off to “good Christian families” (who wanted free labor).
I try to remember these stories because it helps me think about the humanity of the people on display, and always remember not to tolerate systems that could – can – dehumanize people to that degree.
I know I learned a few things, and I am aghast at people, y’all.
If you know a story that would fit onto this list, share it with us in the comments!