When she was orphaned in adolescence in the mid-1850s, Indians in northwestern Missouri offered to adopt my great-grandmother, part Cherokee, blood sister to the Kickapoos (or, perhaps, the Sauks and Foxes). As a result, I suspect, of Baptist religious training, Great-grandmother chose instead to live with a family of ex-slaves until she was taken in later by an aunt and uncle. She viewed the Indian life with respect but chose a path that was more compelling to her.
America must have tens and tens of thousands of similar family stories of connections to native blood and culture. My wife’s grandmother’s grandfather was an Apache scout, straddling the lands and cultures of Mexico, and America, as well as those of the Apaches. It was neither a simple nor easy task—the living at times involving serious violence, at other times whispered secrets. And there were all the difficult border crossings—physical, linguistic, and emotional.
Fergus M. Bordewich in “Revolution in Indian Country” (July/August issue) did an excellent job of wrestling with some of the complexities of our ongoing national struggle over what constitutes legitimate proprietorship of this land. By dealing openly and thoughtfully with these difficult issues, perhaps we can give proper respect to many lines of our heritage without amalgamating everything into a shallow blandness. Because of its effect on our attitudes toward the country and our sense of belonging, these questions will remain important at the individual, community, and national levels.
Thank you for the article.
George R. Cartter Nipomo, Calif.