When he wrote the essay on the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Indians, Alvin Josephy took great pains to place it all in historical context. And he credited the company with high mindedness in establishing standards for dealing with the Indians—the traders were not to use alcohol as trade goods, not to marry Indian women, and were to build peaceful relationships with them and promote peace among the tribes. Measured against French, American, and other British traders, Josephy gives the HBC good marks.
I thought it would also be good to have a resister, one of the men who had gone to Canada to avoid the War, and mentioned this to writer friend Valerie Miner. “What do you mean, the men who went to Canada?” she said. “What about the women? Who do you suppose made the meals and put together the paperwork?” She had been one of them, and after Canada had moved to Sweden and to England before returning to the States—then only after amnesty was declared.
But Valerie’s remarks brought me up short. Made me remember signs along the route of that march. “Girls say no to boys who go” they shouted. Only years later, as I planned the conference on the legacy of Vietnam, did I realize what that said about boys who did not go—and the girls who supported them. In those pre-feminist or early feminist days, girls’ rights, girls’ minds and bodies were of lesser value and at the service of boys.
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