Tuesday, November 18, 2008

American Indians and the Settlers

nez perce indians
It's hard to imagine that only 200 years ago, Louis and Clark were exploring the Northwest Territory.  Things sure have changed since then.  I remember my first encounter with Indians.  It was at Cal State Long Beach maybe 20 years ago.  I was living on campus and bored one day just wandering around and I ran into a Pow Wow.  It was strange and contrived and at the time I thought it was pathetic...shows how ignorant I was.  I pitied the Indians for the gypsy like atmosphere of the event.  Little did I know that the one to be pitied was me, but that is a different story.

The other night I was paging through one of my kid's library books about the Nez Perce, Chief Joseph and all (I'll pretend I know who that was so you can pretend that you do as well and together we can think we are PC).  One photo stood out in my mind.  It was of a frontier family, gaunt, ghostly, worked to the bone, sitting in front of their covered wagon.  I payed close attention to the picture because I can relate to the father as I am one.  His life looked hard.  His wife and siser-in-law? looked like they could fight off bears if they had to.  The kids looked like you'd expect...like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.  Life was hard.

Then I got an idea and paged through the book to find a picture of an Indian family.  I couldn't find a good one, but I suspect they would be a bit happier with life and at peace with nature.  Life was hard for them, too, but I think life had more meaning and they were in harmony with the world.  I wonder if I'm glorifying the Indian way of life, but maybe it should be.  I admit, I'm bad for the environment.

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