What I’ve been reading: February, 2023

  • Wind River Adventures: My Life in Frontier Wyoming
    Found in a random used bookstore in Nevada, am planning on backpacking in the Wind River Range this summer. Fun book and the author painted a very respectful picture of the Native Americans he spent so much time with. Quotes:
    • Page 78, an Indian chief after meeting the POTUS: “Washakie no good talk. Washakie’s heart talks to great white chief. Washakie’s heart says he is glad, and asked Great Spirit to bless white chief and make his heart good toward the Indian.”
    • Page 227: “The Indian, when I first knew him, was far different than he is today. They they were proud, haughty, and independent; kings in their own domain with an empire for their hunting grounds. And until the white man said stop, they knew no ruler. The Indian, as a race, never knew what it was to be despised. Far from aspiring to be like the white man, he has looked forward with a feeling of dread to the coming of the day when he would lose his ethnic individuality.”
    • Page 229: His reflections on the American Indians, after being asked by an audience member if it was “… better that the white man has taken this country from the Indians” as he could “… see clearly the hand of God in the setting aside of the American Indian and the establishing thereon a higher and better religion and civilization.” His answer: “Friend, that is a pretty big question to answer. I do not know whether I can answer it or not but I will say this. If you look at it from a commercial standpoint there is no doubt but that the white man has made greater and more intensive use of this country than the Indian would perhaps in a thousand years. But if you look at it from the standpoint of right and justice and honesty and fair dealing, it takes on an entirely different appearance. Suppose there came from the west a race of people as much more numerous and powerful as we were over the American India and they swept us back into the Atlantic Ocean, setting our remnants aside on reservations here and there and establishing on the continent a higher and better civilization and religion — from their point of view. Do you still see the hand of God as clearly as you did before?”
    • Page 235, his concluding paragraph: “I believe I know the Indian and believe the Indian was a man before outrage and oppression made of him a savage. I have known him as a savage and as a fighting man in the pride and insolence of his strength. I have known him as a monarch whipped into submission…. I have smoked with him the pipe of peace and I have sat with him at his feasts and in his councils. And when I compare them all – the red and white race – calmly in my own mind, their vices and virtues, their sterling worth and their shortcomings, the Indian does not suffer by comparison. When you see an Indian sitting on a curb or standing on the corner with that faraway expression upon his countenance, indifferent to the fate or progress of the world, remember that the white man has taken his country and made him what he is today – a nation conquered and a people dispossessed. His pride is humbled, and his spirit is subdued. His heart is broken. As a race his sun is set.”

    (tags: history wind-river wyoming )