Page:The Indian Dispossessed.pdf/20

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

The Indian Dispossessed

This was the man who was to determine the Indian's right to a foothold in his own country, through congressmen and other officials who must heed the demands of their few real electors or be turned out of office. In the game of politics this much of the nation's great trust has been consigned to his gentle hand.

Out of this condition came our great national reproach. Always of his best the Indian gave up to his white neighbor. New treaties curtailing his reservation were entered into, often unwillingly on his part, or old treaties were violated, and each time the Indian moved to portions of his country more remote and less desirable. The lack of permanency made any continued effort in agriculture impossible. With protection in the pursuit of agriculture, the Indian might have learned much; the strenuous game of the "survival of the fittest" in which he found himself taught him nothing better than was in his own philosophy, and too often he turned back to the old way.

Whether he were the defenceless beginner of the Northwest, or the skilful agriculturist of the Southwest desert with ancient systems of irrigation, the Indian was never regarded as a man. The forceful settler dispossessed the irrigating Indian with even less than usual formality because his highly cultivated lands were the more valuable,—either by driving him into the desert and pre-empting his land, or by diverting his water, thus making his land a desert. Typical of these Indians were the four thousand Pimas of