I keep trying to write about “assimilation,” because I know that Alvin considered it—the ways in which the white power structure has “zigzagged,” as he put it, with policies and actions aimed at “making Indians stop being Indians and turn themselves into Whites”—crucial to understanding the history of America. But I keep finding gems of understanding that seem to precede the concepts of assimilation, and extermination for that matter.
|Peter Rindisbacher, War Dance|
Pictures are worth a thousand words, and another character Alvin wrote about, Peter Rindisbacher, the boy artist who arrived on the Canadian prairie in the1820s and made the first painting impressions of Fox and Cree and Chippewa, paintings that were turned into lithographs and widely distributed in Europe, has over 100 pictures that are worth 1000 words each. (“The Boy Artist of Red River” in American Heritage, February 1970, and The Artist Was a Young Man, a 1970 book.)
Sam Houston, I note, was a good example of a guy who was more comfortable with Indians than with his white compatriots — interesting considering his legenadry status as Texan — what if Texas today, and the USA as a whole, actually worked like it admired the virtues of the first peoples here, while moving past the violence that infests both traditions?
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