The Indian Dispossessed
the slave—should have thus expressed themselves with any literal intent. It is a kindness to absolve them from any intent within the real meaning of the pronunciamento, for we see now that it voices a helpful aspiration, not a fact; but what more was it then than an impassioned protest against inequality with those above, without one thought of those below,—a self-centering cry, "None shall be set above us!" and not the voice of love, saying, "Arise, my brother, and stand with me"?
It is with some hesitation that the pet fiction of the American people is thus vigorously assailed, but while there remains any of the substance with which we have invested its vague indefiniteness the true status of the Indian cannot be clearly defined, and until the limits of his rights are known we cannot know to what extent those limits have been overstepped. If we believe that, in any literal sense, the Indian was created the equal of "all men," and endowed by his Creator with the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness in his own way, we have sinned—and that enormously, because against our own conception of right—in even disturbing him in the possession of his vast hunting-ground; a view untenable, because we know that in this we have done only that which dominant peoples have done since the beginning, and will continue to do until civilization shirks its duty to develop the resources of the whole earth for the highest good of mankind.