Native American Testimony

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 278

Subtitled “A Chronicle of Indian-White Relations from Prophecy to the Present, 1492-1992,” NATIVE AMERICAN TESTIMONY provides a long-needed reference source from the Native American point of view. Gathered from sources as varied as government transcripts of treaty negotiations and autobiographical recollections, this is powerful testimony of peoples possessing rich and varied cultures before their contact with Europeans.

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Part 1, “First Encounter to Dispossession,” begins with ancient prophecy that foretold the coming of whites and the destruction they would bring. One prophecy, repeated by Don Katchongva (Hopi), in 1955 during a congressional hearing, is called “He Will Use Any Means to Get What He Wants.” This short account portrays white invaders as greedy and duplicitous, having strayed from the Great Spirit’s “Life Plan.”

The deep spirituality of the tribes is shown in the chapter entitled “Bearers of the Cross.” Some entries in this section reveal how difficult it was for Native Americans to accept Christianity when they saw the disagreements that existed between the various sects, and the cruelty exhibited by many who professed to be good Christians.

Heartbreaking tales of treaty negotiations and the losses inevitably incurred by the tribes reveal Native American negotiators who were far more intelligent than they were given credit for, and more honest than their counterparts.

Part 2, “Reservation to Resurgence,” depicts the long struggle of Native Americans to receive the justice and fair treatment they were promised in exchange for their lands and livelihood. Encompassing struggles from early reservation days to modern political movements that have, in some cases, won back the lands and rights that were lost, the emphasis is clear: this is a continuing struggle. Includes notes on sources and an index.

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