JANUARY 23, 1959
NEW YORK—Yesterday I visited the offices of META (Metropolitan Educational Television Association) whose aim is to get an educational television channel for the City of New York.
In this regard this city is very backward. Boston has an excellent station used purely for educational purposes, and so has Pittsburgh. Why should not New York City have one? I am anxious that this should come about.
If we had a TV outlet devoted to education we might begin to better explain in our schools some of the problems facing our country. Our youngsters then would be better prepared with background knowledge when they reach the voting age. It would be a big advance in teaching—an advantage that we, their elders, did not have.
Just because I have shown some interest in the plight of the American Indian, I am now getting letters from various tribes, and they make me wonder if actually even our government, which should be their greatest support, is always on their side.
These tribes are wards of the government, but under the guise of giving them the "right to citizenship" we are allowing predatory interests, sometimes state interests, sometimes groups or individuals, to despoil them of their lands. These lands are all these people have, and they own them by treaty with the United States Government.
Here is a quotation from the latest letter that has come to me:
"I, Donald Richmond, as secretary of the Mohawk Indian nation, member of the six-nation Iroquois Confederacy, through close conferences with chiefs and representatives of my nation and the Tuscarora nation, make this plea in our fight for justice....in regards to the acquisition of Tuscarora land by the New York State Power Authority, this and the tax problem have come about by legislation and taxation without representation.
"We are protesting these acts as being unconstitutional and violations of treaties made between the six nations and the U.S. of America ...."
What we do for our Indians is watched by people all over the world. And the Indians feel quite rightly, I believe, that our treatment of them is not enhancing the respect for democracy nor the feeling that we try to give all of our people equal freedom in our country and equal justice.
In our efforts to win the trust of the uncommitted nations throughout the world we must remember that the treatment of our own citizens has a great deal to do with the confidence they put in us as a world power.
Both in the United Nations and in our contacts with nations outside there is a realization that a great nation must respect small nations and must keep its word. Otherwise, there is no security for any small nation.
To many people the problem of our own American Indians may seem very small, but it is really a concern of every citizen. For these were the first owners of the country in which we now live and they have a right to have the treaties they made with the U.S. Government respected and carried out with justice.