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Helen Hunt Jackson Essay Research Paper A

Helen Hunt Jackson Essay, Research Paper A Century Of Dishonor, a Triumph or Tragedy? The author Helen Hunt Jackson had hoped for a triumph over the mistreatment, abuse, and mainly the deaths of seemingly innocent

Helen Hunt Jackson Essay, Research Paper

A Century Of Dishonor, a Triumph or Tragedy?

The author Helen Hunt Jackson had hoped for a triumph over the

mistreatment, abuse, and mainly the deaths of seemingly innocent

Native Americans with her novel, A Century Of Dishonor. However, when

the hard cold reality set in, her novel was merely a small tragedy in the

battle for the Native Americans that sadly went unnoticed.

?What treaty that the whites ever made with us red men have they

kept? Not one. When I was a boy the Sioux owned the world. The sun

rose and set in their lands. They sent 10,000 horse men to battle. Where

are the warriors to-day? Who slew them? Where are our lands? Who

owns them? What white man can say I ever stole his money? Yet they

say I am a thief…. What law have I broken? Is it wrong for me to love my

own? Is it wicked in me because my skin is red; because I am a Sioux;

because I was born where my fathers lived; because I would die for my

people and my country? (qtd. in Carruth and Ehrlich 56).

To write about the author, one must first understand why she felt so

strongly for this sensitive issue. ?Helen Hunt Jackson began writing

professionally at age 35. She first became involved with the plight of the

American Indian in 1879 after attending a lecture illuminating the poor

living conditions and mistreatment the Ponca tribe was undergoing.

Jackson became enamored with this issue, she effectively wielded her

writing skills to illuminate the plight of the Ponca?s to the general public

through the publication of numerous in-depth letters to the editors of

many major eastern newspapers. She furthered her cause by writing

personal letters to prominence such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and

Oliver Wendell Holmes and became heavily involved in literary sparring

matches with the Secretary of the Interior and others who disagreed with

her cause. Her crusade was successful in obtaining federal resolve of

many of the issues facing the Poncas? (Moon 1).

To write of the novel A Century Of Dishonor, one must understand

from which it was written. ?This is a detailed account of the last six years

of Jackson?s life (1879-1885), when she struggled to promote the rights of

American Indians displaced and dispossessed by the U. S. government?

(Mathes). ?This interest climaxed when she heard Ponca chieftain

Standinng Bear and Suzette ?Bright Eyes? La Flesche lecture in Boston in

1879 on the suffering of many dispossessed Plains Indians. As Odell notes,

Jackson?s was a ?sudden and consuming interest.? For the first time, she

identified herself with a national reform movement, not having written for

the causes of black-white equality, temperance, and suffrage…. Jackson

became determined to write a nonfiction book that would expose the

government?s maltreatment of its wards and plead for America to

correct its record. Her campaign to arouse public opinion culminated in

the publication in 1881 of ?A Century Of Dishonor?, a document of some

four hundred fifty pages whose major thesis is that the Indian policy of the

United States defied the basic principles of justice? (Estes 246-247). Helen

Hunt Jackson had determined to do a full-dress study at the New York

Astoor Library, where she found more than enough information to present

that knowledge to the 1880 Congress. ?She presents her case in

emotional narratives of the history of seven tribes, the Cheyennes,

Cherokees, Delawares, Nez Perces, Poncass, Sioux, and Winnebagoes,

and on the massacres of Indians by whites? (Estes 247). Needless to say,

the 1800 Congress was not interested. ?However, the powerful Indian

Rights Association was formed within a year of its publication? (Estes 247).

Not only was the information publiced, President Chester Arthur

appointed Helen Hunt Jackson as a commissionner of the Indian Affairs in

1882.

?To prove all this it is only necessary to study the history of any one

of the Indian tribes. I propose to give in the following chapters merely

outline sketches of the history of a few of them, not entering more into

details than necessary to show the repeated broken faith of the United

States government toward them. A full history of the wrongs they have

suffered at the hands of the authorities, military and civil, and also of the

citizens of this country, it would take years to write and volumes to hold?

(Jackson 29).The novel was then reviewed in the New York Times sixteen

years after her death. ?Of this story it is not necessary to say anything

here. This edition is printed in large type on good paper and provided

with the illustrations -most of them unusually good, made under Mrs.

Jackson?s eye by Henry Sandham, who also contributes an introductory

note? (New York Times 658).

? ?A Century Of Dishonor? spotlights the short comings of the

government?s Indian policy and dutifully records the inhumane treatment

these tribes have received. Jackson predicted shortly before her death in

1885 that ?A Century Of Dishonor? and her other Indian writings would be

here most important contribution in life. Unfortunately, little overall reform

was accomplished during her lifetime. As she predicted, however, ?A

Century Of Dishonor? has served well in awakening the general public to

the dilemma of the American Indian, furthering Helen Hunt Jackson?s

cause into the future over 100 years past her death?(Vick 1).

In conclusion, needless to say, Helen Hunt Jackson?s novel A

Century Of Dishonor was by far a triumph for her but sadly an unknown

tragedy for the Native Americans.

***Works Cited Type on another sheet******* I made a 92 on this paper

Carruth, Gorton and Eugene Ehrlich. The Harper Book of American Quotations. New York: Harper &

Row, 1988. 56. -Reference

Jackson, Helen Hunt. A Century of Dishonor. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

-Primary

Mathes, Valerie Sherer. Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy.

http://www.ou.edu/oupress/books_fall97/helen.htm (June 17, 1998). Internet

Moon, Anita Cheek. Anita Cheek Moon, Member Reviewers? Consortium Carrollton, Georgia.

http://members.aol.com/theoldways/reviews.htm#Jackson (September 9.1998). -Choice

Ranta, Tami M.. Helen Hunt Jackson. American Writers for Children Before 1900. Ed Glenn E. Estes.

Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985. 241-250. -Choice

Revival of ?H. H.? New York Times. October 7, 1905. 658. -Periodical

Type on another sheet******* I made a 92 on this paper

Carruth, Gorton and Eugene Ehrlich. The Harper Book of American Quotations. New York: Harper &

Row, 1988. 56. -Reference

Jackson, Helen Hunt. A Century of Dishonor. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

-Primary

Mathes, Valerie Sherer. Helen Hunt Jackson and Her Indian Reform Legacy.

http://www.ou.edu/oupress/books_fall97/helen.htm (June 17, 1998). Internet

Moon, Anita Cheek. Anita Cheek Moon, Member Reviewers? Consortium Carrollton, Georgia.

http://members.aol.com/theoldways/reviews.htm#Jackson (September 9.1998). -Choice

Ranta, Tami M.. Helen Hunt Jackson. American Writers for Children Before 1900. Ed Glenn E. Estes.

Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1985. 241-250. -Choice

Revival of ?H. H.? New York Times. October 7, 1905. 658. -Periodical

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