Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War
C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa
The University of North Carolina Press | 228 pp |$39.95
Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Entertainment. Discussion »
It is fair to say most American students are exposed at best to a real cursory view of American Indian history during their preparatory education. So plain and simple, most Americans learn very little about the first inhabitants of the United States; and sadly, never learn much about American Indians.
At best they learn about how there were Indigenous people were on this continent prior to Euro-American contact. Then they learn about a few wars that supposedly wiped us all away.
American Indian history is buried deep within American history.
For those interested in learning more about Indian history, and more specifically about the history of Indian policy, they will want to read "Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War."
The book is timely because of we are still commemorating the fact we are now 150 years after the outset of the Civil War.
"Crooked Paths to Allotment: The Fight over Federal Indian Policy after the Civil War" was written by C. Joseph Genetin-Pilawa, an assistant professor of history at Illinois College.
Genetin-Pilawa provides a well researched book that presents contests over Indian policy from Reconstruction to the Gilded Age (1877 to 1893). "Crooked Paths to Allotment" presents an inside view to history that will never be taught properly to American high school students.
The book focuses on the Tonawanda Seneca leader Ely S. Parker and Thomas A. Bland, the editor of "Council Fire." The two are presented in a way that makes you appreciate there were those who fought for American Indians during the time of genocide and the era of colonialism taking over the country and leaving American Indians with less and less land as the country kept perpetuating American settler colonialism."Crooked Paths to Allotment" will allow the reader to wonder "what if" at various points. Genetin-Pilawa argues there were American Indians reformers and their white allies who challenged coercive practices and offered visions for policies that might have allowed Indigenous nations to adapt at their own pace and terms.
Ely S. Parker, who was the first and only 19th century commissioner of the Office of Indian Affairs, comes alive on the pages of this work. He was a strong defender of the true letter of treaties, even if it meant adversely effecting white settlements.
Unfortunately for American Indians, Parker was only in his position for a short four years and his influence was quickly wiped away by those who sought to do away with American Indians.
Fourteen years away from his post, Parker writes in a letter to his Cousin Gayaneshaoh, Harriet Converse in 1885:
"I have little or no faith in the American Christian civilization methods of healing the Indians of this country. It has not been honest, pure or sincere. Black deception, damnable frauds and persistent oppression has been its characteristics, and its religion today is that the only good Indian is a dead one."
"Crooked Paths to Allotment" is an important work because it provides the reader with a greater understanding of how Indian policy evolved during a time when there were massive killings of during the Indian Wars.
Students of American history should read it for a better understanding of mistreatment of American Indians just before the "Progressive Age" was ushered in after the Gilded Age.
I doubt many Indians would agree with the terminology of the Progressive Age.
posted January 26, 2013 6:00 am est
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