Readers reflect on Sand Creek and history
"Taking Flight," Patricia Calhoun, November 28
Thank you for such a well-written and captivating article, which I understand to be the first in a series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre. I look forward to the next.
In this week of Nelson Mandela's death, I couldn't help but be struck by the power of oppressed people who, in their quest for justice and freedom, find forgiveness and offer spiritual healing for those responsible (personally or through ancestors) for the oppression. It takes those who've suffered from victim to survivor while offering love and redemption to those wise enough to appreciate it.
As a black man who years ago moved west after reading books including Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Custer Died for Your Sins, I arrived somewhat pissed off and in complete sympathy with Indians and their plight. Then funny things started to happen: I was called a "jungle bunny" by an Indian in Montana. An Indian in Arizona spat on the ground with a disgusted scowl on his face as I walked by him. My lesson: Indians are just people with foibles like everyone else and are not to be fawned over.
Old-school Indians certainly were not to be. In contrast to the "peaceable, serene, back-to-nature" religious ceremonies promoted today by the mass media, new-agers and Indians themselves, many if not most rituals were centered around hunting societies that kept the people alive by killing animals and putting food on the table, and warrior societies that vanquished the next tribal nation over the hill, who were not of "The People" and taking over their territories. Old-school Indians, women included, were tough customers who did everything to others that was done to them. I am sure they would be ashamed of the self-pitying descendants they left behind. And, yes, I often say the same thing about black people to black people, and they don't like it, either.
History should be learned about and from, not lived in. By all means, one should appreciate one's past — but not waddle in it. Pave your future through deeds and action, not slogans and demonstrations. Minorities in this country need to get over themselves, and self-effacing white people need to get a life.
Name withheld on request
Kudos to Patricia Calhoun for her moving series opener on Sand Creek, with the pathos and insight that the regular press probably will overlook. And so they came, a never-ending WASP horde, with gold in their eyes and Manifest Destiny in their hearts!
And what does the westward expansion tell us about ourselves today, concerning the genocide of the native and his culture on a continent considered largely unoccupied by European interlopers? The indigenous received some small measure of redress, while many still exist in a state of poverty and isolation from mainstream society as imposed upon them in the course of empire.
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