Ely Parker: Letter to Harriet Maxwell Converse about Indian Policy Reform

(1885)

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To you though I will confess, and you must not abuse or betray my confidence, that I have little or no faith in the American Christian civilization methods of healing the Indians of this country. It has not been honest, pure or sincere. Black deception, damnable frauds and persistent oppression has been its characteristics, and its religion today is, that the only good Indian is a dead one. Guns stand, loaded to the muzzle, ready to prove this lie. Another creed under which the Indian is daily sinking deeper into the quagmire of oppression is, that “might makes right,” and on it is based the fallacy transferred or transposed from the Negro to the Indian “that the Indian has no rights which the white man is bound to respect.” The matter of Indian civilization is assuming the character of Joseph’s coat—of many colors—the most conspicuous and prominent just now, being the compulsory allotment of lands and enforced citizenship, nolens volens. All other methods of...

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Ely Parker (National Archives and Records Administration)

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