John Greenleaf Whittier.
(Read at the meeting in Boston, May, 1883, for the consideration of the condition of the Indians in the United States.)
This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.
I REGRET that I cannot be present at the meeting called in reference to the pressing question of
the day, the present condition and future prospects of the Indian race in the United States. The old
policy, however well intended, of the government is no l onger available. The westward setting
tide of immigration is everywhere sweeping over the lines of the reservations. There would seem
to be no power in the government to prevent the practical abrogation of its solemn treaties and
the crowding out of the Indians from their guaranteed hunting grounds. Outbreaksù of Indian
ferocity and revenge, incited by wrong and robbery on the part of the whites, will increasingly be
made the pretext of indiscriminate massacres. The entire questlon will soon resolve its elf into the
single alternative of education and civilization or extermination.
The school experiments at Hampton, Carlisle, and Forest Grove in Oregon have proved, if such proof were ever needed, that the roving Indian can be enlightened and civilized, taught to work and take interest and delight in the product of his industry, and settle down on his farm or in his workshop, as an American citizen, protected by and subject to the laws of the republic. What is needed is that not only these schools should be more liberally supported, but that new ones should be opened without delay. The matter does not admit of procrastination. The work of education and civilization must be done. The money needed must be contributed with no sparing hand. The laudable example set by the Friends and the American Missionary Association should be follo wed by other sects and philanthropic societies. Christianity, patriotism, and enlightened self interest have a common stake in the matter. Great and difficult as the work may be the country is strong enough, rich enough, wise enough, and, I believe, humane and Christian enough to do it.