My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

Text Size: Small Text Normal Text Large Text Larger Text

NEW YORK—I think everybody should be reminded that there is a primary on June 7th and that they should vote in this primary. In certain districts there are contests in both parties. In others only in one, and in some areas of course, I suppose, there are no contests but where there are contests in both parties all voters should feel an obligation to vote, so just remember that you have a civic obligation in New York state and city on June 7th.

I have just been sent a copy of a letter addressed to the President almost a year ago, and the appeal made to me is to draw the attention of the public in general to another situation in which our Indians, this time our Seneca Indians on the Allegheny Reservation in NY State, are involved. A dam is proposed at Kinzua, Pennsylvania, as part of a flood control effort but this dam will flood large areas of land belonging to the Indians. To the Indians their religion means a great deal, and this dam, they say, will destroy the possibility of carrying on a Long-House religion which still functions for the entire group even though many of them are Westernized and work off the reservation. Some of them are even Christians but still request the religious burial of the Long-House religion. The proposed dam will inundate many of their most sacred spots, the cemeteries and the areas where they go to gather the herbs wich are needed in their religious practices and ceremonies.

Dr. Arthur Morgan has suggested another site for the dam which would be less expensive and more efficient than the one planned by the Army engineers and it seems when there is such one has an obligation to write to Senator Carl Hayden, Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. and to Representative Clarence Cannon at the House Office Building, Washington DC, asking that before the appropriations committee which has the right to make the final decision, acts an investigation should be made by an impartial committee. We are living today in a period where the communists are trying to interfere with the mode of life of other people and we are resisting and believe that we should resist. It seems to me that perhaps we should remember that if we want freedom we should grant it even to small groups of people such as our Indians with whom we made treaties and granted them their lands so many years ago. Some of those who are in favor of the Kinzua dam project say that only a few Senecas live on the Allegheny reservation now. Of the 3,800 Senecas on the Allegheny and Cattaraugus Reservations, 1,700 live on the Allegheny Reservation, and if the dam goes through 800 of these, 22% of the total population, will be forced to resettle and this would be extremely difficult because the land that remains available to the Seneca Indians is distinctly inferior in quality. "The US government is charged with the duty of preserving, not endangering, the unique cultural and religious traditions of our Indians. That duty will be irremidially breached if the construction of the Kinzua Dam is permitted to proceed.

We do not seem to think anymore that old treaties have a right to be considered but I think we had better take into consideration whether if we fail in honoring old treaties, we will not be suspected perhaps of failing to keep such international undertakings as we may enter into.

E.R.
TMsd, AERP, FDRL