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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Selective History

By Jerry Cegelske


July 25, 2020
Saturday PM

I am currently reading a book by Glenn Frankel called "The Searchers", ($1 from Friends of the Library).  This is the story of the 1836 capture of Cynthia Ann Parker who was captured by the Comanches and was later the mother of Chief Quanah Parker.  The book states that her male relatives were killed (sexism?) while the children and females were kept as slaves.  James Parker searched for Cynthia for five years and she was not returned to her original family for twenty four years, however by this time she had fully adopted the Comanche way of life and was a Comanche living in a white world to which she could never adapt.  It was her story and the story of her family searching for her that resulted in the movie "The Searchers".  The history related in the book is not  pretty for the Comanches nor for the white settlers in the killing of each other over a long period of time.

In reading the book and seeing Syd Hartley's article [letter] in Sitnews that led me to the assumption that in general all peoples have things in their past that they are not proud of.  It is easy for one person to point out the failures of others and choose to forget those failures associated with themselves.  It is easy to call on changes and the need to address past grievances done to them and ignore the history which may point out their faults.  This may be why some get upset when past grievances and inequalities are pointed out and they are pointed out as failures in not addressing a problem they had little if anything to do with.  One of the problems it that a part of history is being ignored, one part that may be a bigger problem to a group which is trying to project their vision and version of history and place fault at the feet of another group.

As an example, let us take the statement that "Lincoln freed the slaves in the then United States."  That statement is false because there were five Indian tribes in the southeastern United States which held black slaves at the time and kept them.  Lincoln could not free them as they were sovereign nations with their own laws.  In looking at other instances of Native American's holding others captive (think Mary McDonald as Kicking Bird taken as a young girl- Hollywood would never put out anything false) led to an internet search which led to the information on the five tribes.  There was also information on the pacific northwest tribes which was very interesting and needs to be addressed by the City Council if they are going to make a statement on the issues Syd Hartley brought up which pointed out past grievances and past or current problems.

In an article called "Indian Slaves and Slavery", the statement is made " Beginning with the Tlingit, slavery as an institution existed among all the northwest coast Indians as far as California. It practically ceased with south Oregon, although the  Hupa , of  Athapascan  stock, and the Nozi (Yanan ), both of northern California, practiced it to some extent, according to Powers. 

It continues with " The northwest region, embracing the islands and coast occupied by the Tlingit and  Haida , and the Chimmesyan,  Chinookan , Wakashan, and  Salishan  tribes, formed the stronghold of the institution. As we pass to the eastward the practice of slavery becomes modified, and finally its place is taken by a very different custom.

I did not read anything about slavery in the northwest coast Indian culture in Hartley's article however it might be a good thing for the City Council to address along with her grievances.  I think this is an issue that needs to be addressed so that all of us can move forward with a discussion of the many issues facing the many peoples of the world.

As I said, I think there is something in everyone's past that they may not be so proud of if someone digs deep enough.

Maybe it would be best to treat everyone as we would like to be treated and to love one another as God wants us to.

Jerry Cegelske
Ketchikan, Alaska

About: A student of history with an extensive book collection including Mud (yes mud), Hiroshima (effects of the atomic bomb and the Japanese response), Roman Life and Manners (4 vol), Avalanches and Snow Safety, Kings of Cocaine, Clover Passage, Mr. Bligh's Bad Language, and hundreds of Revolutionary, Civil war, WWI, WWII, and Viet Nam war volumes courtesy of the Friend of the Library.


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Received July 19, 2020 - Published July 25, 2020

Related Viewpoint:

letter Acknowledging the existence of racism in our community both past and present By Sid Hartley


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