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The Indian is noted for his generosity. He sets no price upon his property or labor, according to Charles A. Eastman,23 and his generosity is only limited by his strength and ability. In every public ceremony, public giving is a part. His religion forbade the enjoyment of luxury. "Let neither cold, hunger, nor pain, nor the fear of them; neither the bristling teeth of danger, nor the very jaws of death itself, prevent you from doing a good deed," said an old chief to a scout who was seeking game to relieve a starving people." To the Indian, he is wealthiest who gives most; with us, who keeps most.25 To the Indian, "Land is as free as the water he drinks; proprietorship continues only so long as the land is tilled or otherwise in use."26
The Indian has given us the names of four of the five Great Lakes, of countless townships and counties, and of one-half of our states, for example, Massachusetts (blue hills), Connecticut (long river), Dakota (allied people), Wyoming (great plains), Utah (mountain home). These and related facts have slipped almost entirely from our consciousness. Many Americans have quite forgotten the Indian's connection with America—a point which is illustrated by the following incident." An Eastern woman, after spending the winter in Arizona, said that the climate was splendid but that she did not
23 The Indian Today, p. 89.
24Ibid., p. 115.
W. N. Hailmann, in M. M. Butler's Education in the United States, 11:961.
28 Loc. cit.
"E. A. Steiner, Nationalizing America, p. 145.
like the people-there were too many foreigners. Upon being asked what foreigners she found so numerous in Arizona, she replied: "Oh, the Indians."
As soon as the American people really understand the Indian problem, they will insist upon justice to the Indian as the basis for an Americanization program. Our attitude will no longer be like that of an attorney general of the United States who, when asked to make a special inquiry in regard to an Indian case, exclaimed, "God forbid," and accompanied the fervid response by extending his palms, as if pushing away an unwelcome suggestion.28
We must not fail to provide generously out of our abundance for these original possessors of our land. We must offer an educational program that will slowly transform the Indian from the hunting to the agricultural stage of development. We cannot afford to neglect the valuable gifts that the American Indian can yet make to current Americanism.
Lydia Huntley Sigourney has described the Indian's welcome to the Pilgrim Fathers in the following words:
When sudden from the forest wide
A red-browed chieftain came,
With towering form, and haughty stride,
No wrath he breathed, no conflict sought,
But simply to the Old World brought
"F. E. Leuepp, The Indian and his Problem, p. 2.
Then, by way of contrast, the poet has depicted the Indian's present low estate and how he is without a welcome in the mansions that have been builded on land that he once possessed:
Thou gav'st the riches of thy streams,
The American Negro is of composite racial origin; he represents the black Guinea Negroes of the West Coast, the Bantus, Sudanese, and captives from wild interior tribes. He came chiefly from equatorial Africa where great heat and humidity prevail, and where nature is profligate in coarse foodstuffs. The climate favors indolence and suppresses ambition, exertion, and initiative. The overenergetic individuals are cut off; the indolent survive, and become the parents of the successive generations. The abundance of raw foods makes exertion unnecessary in order to secure a living. Natural factors combine to discourage ambition, intellectual effort, and progress, and to foster lethargy and mental retrogression.
Further, the equatorial regions are noted for the prevalence of diseases and pestilences of innumerable variety. Ignorance of hygienic laws and of medical rules combines with disease tendencies to create an excessively high infant and general mortality rate. Those tribes with a normal birth-rate-in an American sense-soon die out. Only those groups survive in whose members the sex instinct assumes a greatly exaggerated expression.
Additional light is cast upon the Negro problem in the United States by considering the Negro's environmental situation under American slavery. The results of the slave system parallel the effects of equatorial influences. Under that régime, any Negro who manifested individuality, a mind of his own, and self-will was punished. If he ran away or otherwise remonstrated against the oppressive phases of slavery, he was put in chains. Slavery offered no special incentive for doing an unusual amount of work in a day. For the mass, there was nothing but an atmosphere of mental oppression. The slave system, therefore, tended to eliminate any members of the race whose ambition and self-will had survived the rigorous weeding out process in the ancestral tropical home. The unambitious and mediocre survived and reproduced the race.
The Negro in America was compared in 1835 with the Indian by our sympathetic French critic, de Tocqueville:
"These two unhappy races have nothing in common; neither birth, nor features, nor language, nor habits. Their only resemblance lies in their misfortunes. Both of them occupy an inferior rank in the country they inhabit; both suffer from tyranny; and if their wrongs are not the same, they originate, at any rate, with the same authors.1
"The Negro, who is plunged in this abyss of evils, scarcely feels his own calamitous situation. Violence made him a slave, and the habit of servitude gives him the thoughts and desires of a slave; he admires 'Democracy in America, I:338.