Madison Courier on

Relations with Native Americans

February 14, 1914

Looking at the relationship between Native Americans and whites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reveals a gloomy past. Although hundreds of treaties were made with the Indians, nearly all of them were broken. One significant act of discrimination towards the Indians came in 1830 with the Indian Removal Act. This law forced Indians to move west of the Mississippi in large masses. The most infamous example is the Trail of Tears, which killed more than half of the Cherokee people. Acts similar to these would plague the Indian nations for the rest of the nineteenth century, eventually cutting the total population of Native Americans from millions to mere thousands. Efforts to lessen the discrimination towards Native Americans were later introduced. - Steven Moyer

N.B. The text below is transcribed verbatim, including the occasional typographical error.

"Great Father Speaks to 189 Tribes of Indians, Real Good Men Found at Last," Madison Courier, 14 Feb. 1914, sec A1.

Washington, February 14, -President Wilson has spoken to one hundred and eighty-nine tribes of Indians during the past six months. His speeches were not made in person, but through the medium of a phonograph apparatus in charge of Dr. Joseph Kossuth Dixon, who headed an "expedition of citizenship to the North American Indians," financed by Rodman Wanamaker of New York and Philadelphia, and son of John Wanamaker.

Rodman Wanamaker is also financing the Indian memorial in course of construction at Fort Wadsworth in the harbor of New York. It is estimated that the memorial will cost a million dollars. The top will be a large statue of an Indian. The base will be a combined museum and art gallery in which will be exhibited pictures of North American aborigines, weapons used by them, etc.

Mr. Wanamaker first became interested in the Indians through Dr. Dixon. He explained to Dr. Dixon that he wished to do something for his country. The latter pointed out what might be done to promote a better feeling between red man and his pale faced brother. Dr. Dixon is recognized as an authority on Indian folklore.

Mr. Wanamaker's recent expedition had the official sanction of the government. Dr. Dixon carried "canned" speeches to practically every part of the country, traveling more than twenty-six thousand miles by rail, stage coach and horseback.

All of the dime novel type of redskins must have gone up to their happy hunting grounds in the sky, for Dr. Dixon failed to find any on his trip. He believes that a new type of Indian is developing. He states that the old red man is fast losing his identity in the waves of Caucasian civilization.

Dr. Dixon regards the Indian as a poet and an orator. He found many touches of pathos in present-day life among the tribes. He urges that the Indian be given an opportunity to live his own life. We need a revolution of methods in dealing with our red wards; then will come evolution, he says.

Money and ambition do not appeal to the Indian, says Dr. Dixon, "but a cloud in the sky or the flight of a bird has a meaning. He lives lives in a mystic world and one cannot cross his path without crossing come of his ceremonials. His ways are as much a mystery to us as metaphysics are to him."

The expedition gathered a vast fund of knowledge concerning tribal conditions, reservation life, politics, financial and social influences. Despite the fact that there are now only three hundred twenty thousand red men in this country, as against the one-million, two hundred thousand who roamed about a few years ago, Dr. Dixon has visions of an era of of regeneration. "There is a new light in the sky," he says.

The idea of interesting the Indian in citizenship and loyalty to the flag was the prime object of the expedition. Many of the wards of the government had no previous understanding of what the flag meant, and a large number had seldom seen it except when raised on their reservation.

Therefore, each time a tribe was visited two flags were carried. One of these flags was the one raised at the Fort Wadsworth services, when President Taft started the work by digging the spadeful of dirt for the memorial foundation. The other flag was presented for the use of the tribe. The ceremonies attending presentation were impressive, following as closely as possible those held in New York.

It used to be said that nothing ever aroused an Indian's interest to the point of wonderment. That day must be passed, for the red men made as big a fuss over the phonograph as a child makes over its first Christmas tree. Many of them had never seen the white man's talking machines. The words uttered by the instrument were translated for those ignorant of the English language.

President Woodrow Wilson's greeting follows:
"The Great White Father now calls you his 'brothers' not his 'children.' Because you have shown in your education and in your settled ways of life stanch, manly, worthy qualities of sound character the nation is about to give you distinguished recognition through the erection of a monument in the Harbor of New York.
"The erection of that monument will usher in that day which Thomas Jefferson said he would rejoice to see, 'when the red men become truly one people with us, enjoying all the rights and privileges we do, and living in peace and plenty.' I rejoice to foresee that day."

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