Photo courtesy NBC,
Top, a promo shot for NBC's "The Wiz." Below, Bigfoot lies deceased in the snow following the Wounded Knee Massacre on December 29, 1890.

NBC's 'The Wiz': Here's How 'Oz' Author Justified His Call for Extermination of Native Americans

Simon Moya-Smith

Before you watch the live telecast of “The Wiz” tonight on NBC, here are a few disturbing facts you should know about the author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” L. Frank Baum:

1. Ten years prior to writing his celebrated tale about Dorothy, Toto, and the yellow brick road, Baum wrote several editorials for the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer in Aberdeen, South Dakota, calling for the extermination of Native Americans:

L. Frank Baum. Photo courtesy

“’The Pioneer’ has before declared that our only safety depends on the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries, we had better in order to protect our civilization followed up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth,” Baum wrote.

2. Within days of one of Baum’s hateful editorials published in 1890, more than 300 Lakota were indiscriminately murdered by the U.S. 7th Cavalry on December 29. The day is remembered as the Wounded Knee Massacre.

3. Baum’s editorials are thought to have inspired the massacre.

4. During the massacre, more than 450 U.S. troops chased down women and children and shot them dead as they fled the volley of bullets.

5. Four days after the massacre, a group of white men buried the frozen bodies of the victims in a trench. The men were paid $2 for each corpse buried.

6. Soon after the massacre, 20 U.S. troops were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their part in the campaign.

7. The “Medals of Dishonor,” as they are commonly referred to, have not been rescinded despite calls from the Lakota, other Native American nations and allies, and celebrities such as award-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone.

8. In 2006, Baum’s descedants visited the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to apologize for their relative's racism and his calls for genocide.

9. December 29, 2015 will mark 125 years since the Wounded Knee Massacre.

10. To date, the Obama Administration has not agreed to repeal the 20 Medals of Honor.

Simon Moya-Smith

Simon Moya-Smith, Oglala Lakota, is the Culture Editor at Indian Country Today. Follow him at @Simonmoyasmith

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skanon's picture
Submitted by skanon on
Research has shown that the whole of Baum's "Wizard of Oz" is a thoroughly racist piece of work. For instance, the Wicked With of the West is the drought that was raging at the time but she is also a stand in for Mother Nature. The flying monkeys who are Indigenous peoples who according to Baum were held slaves to their worshiping of Mother Nature. There are many more examples that can be found. He was essentially a precursor to the Nazis and their Aryan mania.

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
11. L. Frank Baum has been dead for 96 years now!! Baum's descendants apologized "for their relative's racism and his calls for genocide". >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Racism apology offered 'Wizard of Oz' writer's descendants sorry for author's words, attitude By Angela Mettler - American News Writer Mac Hudson of Tucson, Ariz., spent much of August apologizing for things he didn't do. Hudson is L. Frank Baum's great-great-grandson. Most people know Baum as the author of "The Wizard of Oz." Baum lived in Aberdeen from 1888-91. In December 1890, Baum wrote editorials in his newspaper, the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, calling for the extermination of American Indians. ….. Hudson, Schwemm, Morena and Runnels visited Wounded Knee, Cheyenne River, Eagle Butte and Rapid City to apologize to descendants of Wounded Knee survivors. "To them, it was a very historic occasion," Hudson said. Nobody knew if the descendants of Wounded Knee survivors would accept the apology, but they did. Hudson said he never encountered anger; rather, he and his three fellow travelers were welcomed. "It's a very humbling experience," he said. He hopes the apology was a start to mending the physical and emotional wounds brought on by racism. "It seemed possible that healing could occur from this, and if that happens even a little bit, it's worth it," Hudson said. >>>>>>>>>>>> Apologies were made and descendants of Wounded Knee apparantly accepted…Why try to re=open emotional wounds for the sake of "2015 journalism"???????

cassadypayne's picture
Submitted by cassadypayne on
While I think it's important to educate people who like the books and the original film about the white ball of hate that was Baum, I think it is also important to appreciate how The Wiz is a separate entity. It was adapted for PoCs by PoCs and works against Anglo expectation and tropes.

WinterWindTeacher's picture
Submitted by WinterWindTeacher on
Hi Simon, Thank you so much for your brutally honest editorial. The cruelty is still shocking and the vicious propaganda and authorization to carry out such pogroms of fiendish anti human behavior has been its disease and sickness. An itchy finger or fearful shadow of the night it was not but a reality of conscious knowing criminal wrong doing had taken place. To wash filth with filth it did promote volleying ahead. I appreciate the honesty of it, but the thoughtless immoral masterminding and promotion is disgusting and tragic. They have openly condemned themselves and judged themselves, honestly not true or worthy of human being. A beast and before themselves lay on the temple alter these things and confessions of destroying the sacred and holy, divine creation in earth, water, tree, plant and animal, set about to murder human being; plot, plan, propagandize, promote and pilfer so many numerous souls and saints that the breath of the beast is a stench of devoured life that they embraced and brought to these shores, this continent and let loosed on the Indigenous peoples of the many nations, tribes and clans. They have made their own judgement and stand trial as a false people and fiend of the beast. The book of truth does not record their name, neither will the Angels speak it. They fall to a false world of false people which is of the beast. May the world be cleansed of these false beasts betraying human being. Thank you Simon, I know I can not watch this movie again. A true world and a true people are the time that is coming, it is a relief the removal of the burden of this false one and the many false people falling away. A thousand years of peace is a divine blessing for a world that seems it has been an eternity ago since peace lived and thrived here. Thank you Simon for sharing the sad but necessary truth. It is essential to not blindly celebrate some seemingly creative or interesting act, when lurking behind the mask is a fiend of a beast, an enemy to humanity - we need to know to be aware of being tricked, seduced or goaded to a falsity, beastliness. Human being, humanity was created by divinity for divine purpose, to fully become human being is our work.