"In this second part of a unique post-interview question-and-answer session, Dr. David Yeagley — the great grandson of Comanche dignitary Bad Eagle — shares his views.
Question: What is your opinion about Indian treaties? Are they sensible? Are they meaningful to Indians today?
Answer: Obviously, the Indian treaties are historical. They were made during times and conditions which essentially no longer exist. They were agreements between the United States (or the earlier Colonies, or even individual Protestant settlements) and different Indian nations. Indians basically agreed to allow the whites to take over land, and to control anyone on it. Why would Indians cede such enormities? Simply because Indians were nice, generous people. Indians were macho hosts, magnanimous care-givers, and indulged the white stranger in his infantile stages of utter self-absorption. But then when more and more whites 'evolved,' and more and more land was needed, and more control was exercised, Indian tribes began feeling pressure--up against one another. One tribe was pushed into the territory of another.
At that stage, Indians were made into enemies of the whites. Wars transpired. It was like an unanticipated train wreck. It was a tragedy, for Indians. There is simply no other way to tell the story. Indians fought for what was theirs. Whites fought for what they wanted, or for what they felt they needed. When both sides seemed irreconcilable and adamant, treaties became at least a temporary solution. The more whites increased in numbers, however, the treaties were inevitably broken, revised, or completely new ones were made. The white thing was a living, growing thing. Therefore, every Indian treaty involved a certain intrinsic instability, or outright unreliability. The white man inevitably broke his word, because his circumstances were constantly changing.
Essentially, the treaty says to Indians, "Look. We white people are here. We're not going away. And we’re growing. You have to deal with us. We regret that this causes you disruption. But, you simply have to stop killing white people. You can't keep this up. You go over there, in that area across the river, west of the trees, and you stay there. And we'll take care of you! Deal? You can have coffee grounds, hard sugar, and rotten meat--as long as the grass grows and the wind blows! We promise! Naturally, such an agreement was the only option for life--to the Indians. We were out-numbered and out-gunned. "
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What do Native Americans really want?
(The Washington Times 7/7)
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