Helen Hunt Jackson on Native American RIghts
I was born on October 15, 1830 and in that same year, President Andrew Jackson put into effect the Indian Removal Act Of 1830. Which authorized the President to grant non- settled lands west of the Mississippi River to Natives living in existing state borders. Had two brothers, who died soon after birth and a sister Anne. My mother died in 1844 when I was about 1 5, then three years later my father died.
My father provided for all my education and after his death I was arranged to live with my uncle. I attended the Picnics Female Seminary and the Abbot Institute in New York City.During my schooling became acquainted with Emily Dickinson. At the age of 22, married a US Army Captain by the name of Edward Bidden Hunt. We had two sons, Murray and Rennin. Murray died as an infant of brain disease. Two years later my husband died in a military accident and a couple years after that my other son, Rennin died of diphtheria.
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All of this death and sadness in my life compelled me to begin writing. I would publish my earliest works anonymously under the name “H. H. In 1 879 my interest went to Native Americans when I sat in on a lecture by the Ponca Chief Standing Bear.He described his tribe’s removal from their Nebraska reservation and transfer to the Swap Reservation. After being transferred the tribe suffered from disease, climate, and inadequate supplies. I was so moved by the chiefs lecture, I immediately became an activist.
Started to investigate and publicize the government’s misconduct in handling the removal of Native Americans. Also began to write and circulate petitions and I began to write letters to the New York Times on behalf of the Ponca. My writings would cause major turmoil amongst federal officials and myself.I exposed the government’s violation of treaties and the corruption amongst many government officials and settlers that stole Natives Land. My investigations let me further understand and investigate specific policies that the government created. One was known as “concentration”. In 1851 , the government assigned each tribe its own reservation, confirmed by individual treaties.
These treaties were almost always illegitimately negotiated with unauthorized representatives. This allowed the government to easily control the tribes and force them into designated locations.However, this policy didn’t last long and the government had to create a new way to take the Natives land. So in 1867, Congress established the Indian Peace Commission. This was seen as a permanent Indian policy. The government would move all of the Plains Indians into two large reservations, one in Oklahoma and one in the Dakota. The government agents bribed and tricked Indian representatives to agree to the establishing of the new reservations.
This peace commission worked only a little better Han the first.The biggest problem was that whites were relentlessly slaughtering the buffalo herds that supported the tribe’s way of life. Within a decade, the buffalo population had dropped drastically. This destroyed the Natives source of food and supplies and their ability to resist moving to reservations. All of the tensions between the whites and the Natives eventually led to war. Conflicts lasted around 40 years, 1860-1890. During the wars I was doing my best to awaken white Americans to their shameful treatment of the Indians.
I wrote my book A Century of Dishonor in hopes hat it would be a wake-up call for the white Americans.I sent a copy to every member of Congress with a quote from Benjamin Franklin printed on the cover. “Look upon your hands; they are stained with the blood of your relations”. I made a lot of enemies in Congress. They said that I made unmeasured attacks and that I had lost some of my supporters because of it. Soon went to Southern California for respite and because I was interested in the area’s missions and the Indians living there. Soon the Indians living there were confronted by the government to give up their land.
Mexicans provided o the Indians could still occupy their land and I began to write again. Rote another book, however I incorporated romance into the novel to reach a wider audience. It was a lot more successful than my previous novel and also contributed to growth of tourism to Southern California. I wanted to write children’s stories about Indian issues, but I didn’t live long enough to complete it. I died in 1 885 Of stomach cancer in San Francisco. Hopefully you all can see the complete inhumane way of treating the Natives and can reflect on all the hardships they had to endure because of us. Thank you for your time.