My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

HYDE PARK—You must be beginning to think that all the Indians in the United States are having a difficult time—and I think you will be right! Ever since I first publicized an appeal from an Indian I have received many more. Today I have two more communications.

The first of these is from the Taos Indians of Taos, New Mexico, begging that the Bureau of Public Roads be urged to change the route for a road that is being planned to go through the Taos Indians' "sacred lands." They oppose this road because they feel "it would destroy the unique beauty of this historic area."

The other was sent me by someone who in the year 1955 read a statement by an Indian chief named Dan Katchongva. The writer had clipped this statement from the Arizona Daily Sun of Flagstaff, and saved it. It is a very moving plea and one that I think deserves republication today. So, I will give it to you in full, for the people of the U.S. must awaken to their obligations, through their government, to the American Indians. Chief Dan Katchongva wrote:

"This land is ours and has been from the beginning. We came here first. We hold this land under instructions from our Great Spirit. All of the matters concerning land and the animals were worked out long before the White Man came to us.

"The White Man has come upon us long after we, the Hopi, and other Indians in this area have worked out for ourselves how to live. Our land was well established where each tribe would live. The Hopi people, after many generations of migration, came to this area because it was pointed out to us by higher powers. The White Man came and after becoming strong because of our help started to take all the land, homes, and other property away from us. We have suffered untold hardships as a result. We are still suffering.

"Every time we work up to a point where we feel that we have everything we need, then a new policy or program comes from Washington, and immediately we are forced to go on that plan without our consent, prior knowledge, or consultation.

"The White Man seems to have forgotten his religion, his obligation to the Indians and his promises, but continues to try to force us to his ways.

"Sometimes we are put in his jail, his prisons, and have come to this time now without sheep, horses to work our farms, our very own land. These lands have been taken from us by the Navajo with the help of the United States government.

"Today we find ourselves confined to a small area. Today I am without houses because Indian Bureau officials have confiscated them because I wanted to take care of them in the way the Hopi did for generations before the White Man came.

"Many of our people are sheepless because they refused to follow Indian Bureau policies. As a leader of my people, I have never been consulted about any of this, nor have I given my consent to these policies.

"I have always objected to anyone coming upon our land to take our natural resources. We have long known that the wealthiest part of this great land is here beneath us. But we know, too, that these resources must not be used for purposes of war nor to destroy other people. These things are to be used only for peaceful purposes and then only after the land matter of the Hopi has been settled.

"Our way of life is good and well planned out for us by the Great Spirit and we have been warned never to depart nor deviate from it. Our land is not selfish. If we take care of it by the way we live and by prayer, by performing our ceremonies and by adhering to the instructions of our forefathers, then we may enter the everlasting life and not destroy ourselves."

E.R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL