11 March 2004

an old lump

Last night, I was reading Blackhawk, which is the supposed autobiography of Blackhawk, a Sauk who led a "rebellion" against the Yankee settlers who were invading land which had been "promised" to the native peoples. I am ""ing everything since I am having a difficult time swallowing this information.

First off, I am rather appalled at the language which this autobiography of Blackhawk uses. Outdated and derogatory words such as "squaw" (referring to a native woman), and "brave" which, although not offensive to everyone, still carries the connotation of a "noble savage." I don't believe that Blackhawk would have used such language, and cite the limits of the translator who was only a product of his time. I wish that someone could get ahold of the original manuscript (if it even exists) and retranslate it, preferably someone who has a better grasp of the Sauk language.

Secondly, I am learning so much in my Native American Indians of Illinois class. I am really fired up about the treaties signed between the Indian Nations and the United States. Essentially, there was count after count of the U.S. government not holding on to its promises, and that makes me so angry. Mr. Thomas Jefferson, presumably in his more sagacious years, quipped,

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."

Lastly, it just makes me sad. I can imagine the bewilderment of a people who have learned to adapt to a new influx of a completely different culture, and play by the new rules in which they have had no say developing, and are still treated with dislike and hatred. I feel an old vague lump of anger and sorrow somewhere in my chest, when I think about the families and lifeways that were ruined because of imperialism. Not only here, but throughout the world.

I take solace in the fact that these events were part of the birthing process of a new World Order - these sacrifices made by indigenous people throughout the world paved the way for the unification of mankind. That angry lump relaxes a little then, and I look to the present and future - of course we cannot change the past. But we can own up to it - acknowledge that we, not as individuals but as humanity, have made mistakes - and then we can move beyond it - build on that rich heritage espoused by peoples and cultures from the whole world. World history, native history - it is our history - all of ours.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Dang girl. That was quite eloquent. I was thinking you might be interested in reading this book (I'm reading it for the upcoming American Indian Higher Education Consortium in Montana) called American Indian Politics and the American Political System. It's very a very detailed account of treaties, facts, laws, broken promises, etc...
It's more than an eye opener.