These letters have been gleaned from past issues of The Indian Reader.
I am very appreciative of your publication The Indian Reader! I have read the first two copies virtually cover-to-cover and found them most informative. You are attempting to cover a very diverse range of topics and groups and the results are like a sampling from a vast smorgasbord of food. Some of the tidbits are so interesting that one would like to have much more. It is sufficient to get a sense of present developments.
Keep up the good work! The enclosed small check is a token of my support.
-Charles L. Cleland, Ombudsman
University of Tennessee
To The Editors:
Thank you for the copy of The Indian Reader that you sent me. I find it most informative. I also read the small article you had on page 15 in the blank layout that you wanted filled by a reader. Okay!
Since we, the Faircloth Tribe of the Corriee Indians, began our quest for Federal recognition we have only received laughs! That's right, we can't get anywhere with the government.
Our people are so poor we can not really have anything of our own, many are disabled and those that are not are uneducated and have to be under bondage to the whites for what little we do get. We can't get grants that will enable us to purchase equipment with which to work on our own, so we are really under bondage.
I have taken the burden upon myself to try to raise enough money to purchase a few fishing boats that members can use to make their own living instead of making the white man rich. We live here on the water and could make a good living if we had boats, even small ones.
With small boats we could catch flounder, clam, oyster, and set nets and no one else would have to do without. Those that can work could help those that can not, everyone could share in the bounty.
I am an educated man and have a vast knowledge of the occult. I am Chief Medicine Man of the tribe and will lend my services to any Indian in the United States that needs spiritual help in any matter. I will answer all questions put before me and will guarantee satisfaction by the spirits. I charge nothing for my services, however, any donation would be used to pay for fishing boats for the tribe to use to make their living and get out of bondage.
If we can get out of bandage we can make our way and be able to hire attorneys to help us get Federal recognition. It is as simple as that, my friends.
Please let me hear from you when you will. I and my people will be so grateful if you will publish this letter-article.
Sincerely Yours, `Til The Fathers Come Back Home'
-Chief Turtle Faircloth
Faircloth Tribe of Corriee Indians
To The Editors:
I read with great interest The Indian Reader which just arrived and feel that such a publication is long overdue!
Both of my grandmothers were part Cherokee and my paternal grandmother reportedly received a land grant in Oklahoma - which was subsequently lost through "representation" by an attorney.
As you know, it has become of some advantage in business associated with the U. S. Government to be recognized as a "Native American." That is odd since in growing up I always tried to play down the fact that I looked "different" and never shared with my friends that I was "part Indian" since Indians were known to be "dumb drunks." And I recall how everyone marvelled when an Oklahoma Indian was elected student body president during my days as an undergraduate at Texas Wesleyan College in Fort Worth.
But there is a problem: ;how can I establish that I am a Cherokee "Native American?" I have a number of friends now who proudly admit they are of Cherokee extraction but no one seems to know how to establish the fact.
Also, how can I be of help in improving the lot of the Cherokee Band?
-J. Bond Johnson, Ph.D.
Long Beach, CA
These two letters remind us of an earlier day and time, far away in another place, when many brave men knelt before their king to be knighted into his service. Then, one would suppose, the newly-anointed knight enjoyed not only the freedoms granted by the king but also the treasures and pleasures of the nobility which accompanied it. Indeed, he was a member of an exclusive elite.
Such is the romantic vision of that era. Sometimes the trouble with romanticism is that the thought may not always end up in reality as envisioned and hoped for through imagery. It is important to remember that in the days of the knighthood even the king himself often engaged in battle on foot.
Many people today forget that when that loyal subject knelt before the king to be knighted he also gave the king his own sword to perform the act. In so doing, the candidate actually relinquished his fate to the king's pleasure, who then held the power of his life and death. In those days, the king might just as well have used the sword to behead him as to tap his shoulders with it and thereby grant him mercy. To not be killed was to be so knighted into a mode of feudal tenure and a lifetime of servitude. As a "knight" you served at the pleasure - and mercy - of the king.
It was not an easy life. If the king sent you to battle, you went. If he needed an errand run, you did it. If you crossed him or betrayed him, you paid with your life.
This story has revealing and pertinent truths. Today, many people seek their origins - to know themselves through their culture - a meaningful human pursuit. Yet it is curious that some seek an outside authority to approve the findings and issue the membership cards.
In earlier days, everyone knew their king and their place within his kingdom. Today, most people don't realize that they're still asking to be dubbed "knight" by a king they don't even know.
Without the presence of being and knowledge of oneself as "Indian," then the requested approval by an outside authority is truly a willing subjugation of essential human rights. The romantic image must eventually give way to the truth, and the truth is that to be "Indian" is a lifetime struggle to be real and to know it for yourself. To be Indian is to also adopt the lifetime struggle to remain keeper of the earth - to preserve and respect that which supports life as we know it. By knowing yourself as yourself, without the need for approval by any higher authority other than yourself, then you are improving the condition of others of similar mind.
But if you do need approval, seek it. Problem is, the life which follows might not be the comfort of the round table. That is, of course, if you don't first get your head chopped off.
- The Editors
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