Archive for Sunday, August 10, 2003

Stolen, not free

August 10, 2003


To the editor:

As I read about the Chautauqua being planned with Stephen Douglas and Frederick Douglass, among others, I wondered what was missing. Chautauqua is a word of the Iroquoian language, referring to "one who was lost."

The subject being lost in this article is how the 19th-century politician Douglas' pushing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act eliminated Indian Territory as it was established in the 1820s.

So much is made of the fight over slavery versus freedom in this area, but this is not the whole picture. It was the previously occupied land that Euro-Americans desired at any cost from the indigenous peoples of Turtle Island, and the oppressive labor that Euro-Americans desired from African peoples. Exploitation of land and labor resources was the outcome. There should be no honor in profiting from exploitation, but that's what the systematic oppression of the whole picture of this country's history does when educating the general populace and stating that the only history that matters occurred post-1776.

The words "Free State" are thrown around these parts with such abandon, I wonder if the greater population even knows that this land wasn't free. Ask those tribes who were coerced and terrorized out of 13.5 million acres in 1854-55 in current eastern Kansas and Nebraska. The Sac and Fox, Iowa and Kickapoo tribes and nations of Kansas, along with the Eastern Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot, Miami, Confederated Peoria and Otoe-Missouria tribes of Oklahoma, and the Omaha tribe of Nebraska probably don't refer to this area as free, but as stolen.

Mike Ford,


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