Saturday, June 23, 2012

Native Americans

“I am tired of talk that comes to nothing.
 It makes my heart sick when I remember
all the good words and broken promises….
You might as well expect the rivers to run backward
as that any man who was born a free man
should be contented when penned up and
denied liberty to go where he pleases. …
I have asked some of the great white chiefs where
they get their authority to say to the Indian that
he shall stay in one place, while he sees white men
going where they please. 
They cannot tell me.”
~ Chief Joseph

For the history buffs among us, the saga played out in "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" is one not soon, or easily forgotten.  The bitter & bloody battles between the government & the native population knew no bounds, eventually leading to the end of an era associated with the Indian's way of life. 

Today we are occupied with upcoming elections, global cataclysms, gas pump woes, egregiously errant football coaches & rogue nations.   But it was not all that long ago when painted ponies grazed adjacent to tee pees, and buffalo roamed in large, numberless herds upon the plains.  Our great & noble land belonged to a culture completely & utterly different than it's current residents.

Native Americans.  You will find them throughout the country, and concentrated in some areas; areas still known today as reservations.  How fitting.  The government had in mind a place reserved specifically for the Indian; a place where they could contain & then civilize the indigenous peoples.  But the Indian - no doubt -had/has many a reservation about such a plan.  Little wonder.

In Washington State we are ever mindful of the Native American influence here.  Nearly every stream or river, valley, hill, city & burg carry the names of noble tribes.  To name a few from here in the Pacific Northwest alone

  • Cathlamet
  • Cayuse
  • Chehalis
  • Chelan
  • Colville
  • Duwamish
  • Klickitat
  • Lummi
  • Methow
  • Muckleshoot
  • Nisqually
  • Okanogan
  • Puyallup (city of my residence)
  •  Satsop
  • Semiahmoo
  • Skagit
  • Snohomish
  • Twana
  • Wallawalla
  • Wenatchee
  • Yakima
I'm not sure why I feel compelled to think upon the Native American culture & history today.   One reason may be to honor them.  Another may be to recognize why they loved this land as they did.  Or perhaps it is to recognize that even today a well-intentioned government prescribes this or that to their liking, with little thought to the liking or needs of the land's inhabitants.  Yet another may be to consider how deeply Indians respected The Creator, Who they rightly called "The Great Father".

One thing's certain:  They are marginalized now; often forgotten. 

Not today.  Some things never change; and some seem destined to forever remain the same.

“The white people were as thick and numerous
and aimless as grasshoppers,
moving always in a hurry
but never seeming to get to whatever
place it was they were going to.” 
~ Dee Brown/Author, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee


Denise said...

Appreciate this post.

myletterstoemily said...

my state, oklahoma, has done terrible
things to the people who lived here
first. now they own all the casinos.

what goes around . . .

Thoughts for the day said...

Good thoughts for the day, we do need to remember them.

manthano said...

Great wisdom in those quotes.

Nel said...

I enjoyed this post! I was told one of my ancestors was involved with the Trail of Tears. I am still doing research on it. I know that part of my ancestors were of the Cherokee Tribe and for that I feel honored. Thank you for this post!
until next time... nel

Just a little something from Judy said...

What a great reminder of a people that I do not know very much about. I do appreciate how you honor and remember important people in America's past and present.