Location: Lofers West Campground (COE); Whitney, Texas
This post is for my grandchildren to read in the future. One of the regrets in my life was not having deep conversations with my parents. Conversations that would reveal what their dreams were when they were young, why did they do certain things in their life, what instances changed their life, who were influential people that may have changed the direction of their lives, etc.
Well, since today is moving day and I have a couple hours before I need to start the hitching process, I thought maybe I'd fill the grandchildren in on a few things that I believe and a story about their great-grandfather. Obviously, this won't be a complete list or even the most important things I believe. It will just be what comes to mind, as of now.
My next campground will be near the town of Comanche, Texas. The name got me to thinking about
Native Americans, American Indians Indians. I honestly do not use the word Indian in a derogatory or disrespectful manner. I'm not sure what the latest term is or who voted on it so I'll just use the term that was used as I was growing up, Indian.
The Comanche started out in the Northwestern part of the country in what is now Wyoming and was part of the Shoshone tribe. They split from the Shoshone and started migrating south where they defeated and claimed territory from every Indian tribe they met. When they entered what is now New Mexico and Texas, they had almost wiped out the Apache tribe. This type of invasion and conquering occurred with all of the Indians throughout the Americas. It was no different than what the Non-Indians did when they arrived. The British and French in North America with the Spanish and Portuguese in Central and South America invaded and conquered the Indians that were in their way. I'm not saying it was right, but it was the way things were at the time. Atrocities were done on both sides and the true truth may never be know since as I've said before, the winner writes the history. This type of conquering is still happening today in parts of the world.
One of the worse things the U.S. did to the Indians was to place them on reservations without an easy path for them to leave and assimilate into the general population of the country. They became trapped in a system that kept them dependent on the government for just about everything they needed to survive. I'm not sure if that was the original intent but it is what it turned into. Heck, the Indians weren't even allowed to become citizens and vote until 1924.
This same type of dependency is what happened to the slaves after the Civil War. Cheap labor was still needed in the south after the slaves were granted freedom so the "sharecropper" system was set up. Freed slaves still did the same work they had done before they were freed, but now they got a share of the profits. Sounds fair, uh? However, most of the time, their share was just enough to cover their living expenses that they paid to the landowners. Again, very hard for them to escape the economic chains put on them. These economic chains were also worn by the coal miners of the Appalachian region of the country. The mine owners built towns, stores and schools for their workers. When payday came, the living expenses were deducted from their pay. Those two examples were headed up by land owners and mine owners, both of which were private while the Indians were controlled by the government. Later on, the government did the same thing to a large group of its citizens by making them dependent on the government for money (welfare), housing (HUD), health care (affordable care act), etc. Its the same thing, just a different group of people but with the same economic chains and no easy path to escape.
As I said, the Indians weren't allowed to become citizens until 1924 which was the year my father was born. As I've said before, my father's career was in heavy construction with a company that built large bridges and dams across the country. When he retired he was a Project Superintendent/Project Manager. At this retirement, I met a few people that worked with him throughout his career. Some flew in from around the country. As my father introduced me to the people I didn't already know, he would always include, "who just graduated from college as an engineer". My father introduced me to a man about the same age as him by saying his name, but no sooner than my father finished the name, the man said, just call me "Chief", everyone else does. I could tell he was an Indian and with me being fresh out of school, I took the opportunity to ask him if the nickname Chief was insulting to him. In that plain and straightforward talk of his generation, he calmly smiled and said, "I am a proud American citizen first but am also a leader of my people. Your father helped me escape the reservation in South Dakota when he hired me to work in his concrete crew and showed me many things about concrete and life. He showed me what it would take to stay off the reservation. I have passed those lessons on to many of my people who also call me Chief. So no, the name doesn't bother me at all." After shaking my fathers hand and thanking him, he walked away. I asked my father why I had never met Chief before and he said they hadn't worked together for over 20 years. He told me, from what he had heard, Chief had become one of the best concrete men in the company which was strong praise coming from a man known for his concrete expertise. My father had never talked about Chief before or after his retirement. I guess in his mind, doing what he did for Chief was nothing special. But, seeing the look on Chief's face as he told me about it, you could tell it was something very special to him. It wasn't until many years later that I understood what Chief had meant when he said "escaping the reservation".
|With a post like this, you got to have a picture of a "thinking bench". This is the original thinking bench for this blog. It is from Jennings Ferry Campground; Eutaw, Alabama. Around the spring of 2014|
Today is moving day and I have to start getting ready.
Ya'll take care of each other. Maybe I'll Cya down the road.