The Reservation

October 11, 2010
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Dear President Chester Arthur:
My native name is Singing Blue Jay, but my white name is Mary. I am 16 years old. I have seen more hardships and bore more pain than you can imagine. My people are hurting. It is because of these policies that are being enforced. I would like to thank you for being so kind as to give my family one quarter of a section of the land we used to roam freely on before. The Dawes act is just plain un-American. America was based on different principles than the ones being practiced. We are shipped around like cattle. The military is our strict rancher, ready to bring out the whip at any given moment. Our tribal ways are lost. The elder’s memories have faded into an abyss into which we are all falling hopelessly. My younger brother knows nothing of our natural migration. To him, we go where we are told and keep are heads down. We have not only been broken down, but also broken up. In the Dawes Act, it calls for the separation of our extended families. We depended on these people to get by. They were our support. You say this was to make us more independent? Well, sir I don’t think you ever saw a Red Man work before. We do not want to live like you. We want to keep our carefully crafted culture. The United States government is picking apart our beautifully crafted web, which we have spent thousands of years on. How can a spider be kicked out of its web and be expected to act like an ant when all it know how to do is be a spider? We, Mr. President, are spiders, and need our webs to stay alive. Contrary to popular belief, we are not of a poisonous variation but rather a docile garden spider that would like to go about its own habits and ways. I enjoyed working alongside my extended family. Aunts, Uncles, second cousins, nieces, grandmothers: they all made working more meaningful. But now, I’m stuck on a small plot of land. We have been dropped here with meager tools and no experience on farming the land. We are told, “Do this”. We are a gentle people and we try, but when there are no lessons to be used and no knowledge to be had why bother trying? Our ideas of bright and promising futures have been crushed. Where do we go from here? Even our rituals such as the Ghost Dance have been prohibited. Roaming with the buffalo is more of a faded dream than an actual memory of mine. We have lost the elders, lost the youth, and the rest are so devastated they can barely raise their head. Mr. President I would like you to remember just one thing: spiders cannot be expected to hop off their webs and start marching like ants.
Singing Blue Jay
May 7, 1887





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