Returning to the reading from a few days hiatus, I am greeted with the first removal treaty carried into effect under the Indian Removal Act, the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. The beginning of the many long trails of tears...
Christmas day has passed. All of the candles on the Menorah have been lit. Winter Solstice celebrated and Kwanzaa commenced. The New calendar Year approaches. 2012 is on the horizon, and...I wonder, what will happen to our 519 year long quest for GOLD and for PROPERTY OWNERSHIP? What will become of our attitudes and actions which reflect our continued fond regard for the mythologies of “the great frontier” and the Hollywood western/action movie/video game appeal of “every man for himself”?
I wonder...how will we value life? How will we live?
“...He [the indian] had never fully grasped the principle establishing private ownership of land as any more rational than private ownership of air but he loved the land with a deeper emotion than could any proprietor. He felt himself as much a part of it as the rocks and trees, the animals and birds. His homeland was holy ground, sanctified for him as the resting place of the bones of his ancestors and the natural shrine of his religion. He conceived its waterfalls and ridges, its clouds and mists, its glens and meadows, to be inhabited by the myriad of spirits with whom he held daily communion. It was from this rain-washed land of forests, streams and lakes, to which he was held by the traditions of his forebears and his own spiritual aspirations, that he was to be driven to the arid, treeless plains of the far west, a desolate region then universally known as the Great American Desert.”
- Zinn included this from Dale Van Every’s book, Disinherited - the lost birthright of the American Indian
“There were defenders of the Indians. Perhaps the most eloquent was Senator Theodore Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, who told the Senate, [as they were] debating removal:
“We have crowded the tribes upon a few miserable acres on our southern frontier; it is all that is left to them of their once boundless forest; and still, like the horse-leech, our insatiated cupidity cries, give! give! ... Sir ... Do the obligations of justice change with the color of the skin?”"
"The forces that led to removal did not come, Van Every insists, from the poor white frontiersmen who were neighbors of the Indians. They came from industrialization and commerce, the growth of populations, of railroads and cities, the rise in value of land, and the greed of businessmen."
"In late 1831, thirteen thousand Choctaws began the long journey west to a land and climate totally different from what they knew. "Marshaled by guards, hustled by agents, harried by contractors, they were being herded on the way to an unknown and unwelcome destination like a flock of sick sheep." They went on ox wagons, on horses, on foot, then to be ferried across the Mississippi River. THE ARMY WAS SUPPOSED TO ORGANIZE THEIR TREK, BUT IT TURNED OVER ITS JOB TO PRIVATE CONTRACTORS WHO CHARGED THE GOVERNMENT AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE, GAVE THE INDIANS AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. EVERYTHING WAS DISORGANIZED. FOOD DISAPPEARED. HUNGER CAME. The army was supposed to organize their trek, but it turned over its job to private contractors who charged the government as much as possible, gave the Indians as little as possible. Everything was disorganized. Food disappeared. Hunger came."
"The first winter migration was one of the coldest on record, and people began to die of pneumonia. In the summer, a major cholera epidemic hit Mississippi, and Choctaws died by the hundreds. The seven thousand Choctaws left behind now refused to go, choosing subjugation over death. Many of their descendants still live in Mississippi."
Van Every says in Disinherited:"The foundation principle of Indian government had always been the rejection of government. The freedom of the individual was regarded by practically all Indians north of Mexico as a canon infinitely more precious than the individual's duty to his community or nation. This anarchistic attitude ruled all behavior, beginning with the smallest social unit, the family. The Indian parent was constitutionally reluctant to discipline his children.' Their every exhibition of self-will was accepted as a favorable indication of the development of maturing character...
Thus has been maintained for ages, without convulsions and without civil discords, this traditional government, of which the world, perhaps, does not offer another example; a government in which there are no positive laws, but only long established habits and customs, no code of jurisprudence, but the experience of former times, no magistrates, but advisers, to whom the people nevertheless, pay a willing and implicit obedience, in which age confers rank, wisdom gives power, and moral goodness secures title to universal respect."
"As for the Cherokees, they faced a set of laws passed by Georgia: their lands were taken, their government abolished, all meetings prohibited. Cherokees advising others not to migrate were to be imprisoned. Cherokees could not testify in court against any white. Cherokees could not dig for the gold recently discovered on their land. A delegation of them, protesting to the federal government, received this reply from Jackson's new Secretary of War, Eaton: "If you will go to the setting sun there you will be happy; there you can remain in peace and quietness; so long as the waters run and the oaks grow that country shall be guaranteed to you and no white man shall be permitted to settle near you.""
...2012 approaches...how will we be?