Monday, May 23, 2011

An illumination:

"All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian."
Just finished reading Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne. It’s a good book, well written and would be a worthwhile and enjoyable read for anyone interested in that period of history, Texas History and possibly sociology.

I live only about 45 minutes from Col. Parker’s Fort (referred to in the book), have a smattering of knowledge about Cynthia Ann Parker (daughter of said Col. Parker, later wife of Comanche Chief Peta Nocona and mother of Quanah Parker, the last great Comanche War Chief) and consider myself somewhat learned about Texas History and the Texas Rangers. However, the text enlightened me as to how little I know about Indian depredations in Texas and all across the Great Plains from the 1820’s when the land of Texas was held by the Republic of Mexico until the 1870’s, by which time Texas had won it’s independence from Mexico, been a nation unto itself, joined the Union, seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy, been on the losing side of the War of Northern Aggression and rejoined the Union again. A mere 25 years +/- from the beginning of the 20th Century, by which time man had invented the telephone, was actually using electricity within his home and the Wright brothers were already experiencing unpowered flight at Kitty Hawk. Why, my Grandma was born right here in Central Texas in 1898.

But to the point of this post; while reading towards the latter part of the book, the author makes reference to the fact that the U S government, because they had no better approach, decided to take away the lifestyle of the Plains Tribes, or more so the complete identity of all indian tribes so that they (the Govt.) could “assume control” their lands. This post is not to argue the merits of property rights but rather to examine what the government did in removing the Indians from their territories and placing them on the “Res.” Not surprisingly, I see many parallels to an unfortunately large population of those currently warehoused within today’s “projects”. The correlation is too great to be overlooked.

Shortly after “The End of Camelot”, LBJ managed to secure legislation to enact what was then called his “Great Society”. I’ll not argue that conditions of the time necessitated actions insuring equal rights but rather that in government’s desire to solve a social problem they created new problems of much greater magnitudes than those they solved.

By throwing admittedly limited funding at the Indians on the reservation, those Native Americans relinquished their independent spirit becoming dependent upon the largess of their Great White Father to see to their every need, enslaving them to their condition as deemed appropriate by that government. By accepting their government’s offer of resource to “improve” the quality of life of our nation’s impoverished and underserved in the late 60’s, it appears we created yet another dependency rather than independence. A group of society satisfied to exist with that which they are given rather than encouraged (or forced) to rise above their condition and earn that which they were capable of as equals before our Constitution.

So what’s the answer. I don’t know. Problems are easily identified and solutions are complex and hard to come by. We are all created equal but that does not mean all are equal in terms of knowledge, abilities or talents; nor do I recognize, nor accept a government mandated obligation towards that type of equality (sameness, if you will). Creative problem solving could suggest the answer lie in societal change towards what I consider the disenfranchised and in turn a change in them with regard to their lot in life. I believe that until such time as people really desire to better themselves and sacrifice to do so, they will remain “on the Reservation”. And until such time as we take steps to provide them the means and impetus to do so, things will likewise remain status quo.