Helen Hunt Jackso 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 Poncas 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 Jacksons 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, Jacksons 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 governments 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. Jacksons eye by Henry Sandham, who also contributes an introductory note (New York Times 658). A Century Of Dishonor spotlights the short comings of the governments 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 Jacksons cause into the future over 100 years past her death(Vick 1).
In conclusion, needless to say, Helen Hunt Jacksons novel A Century Of Dishonor was by far a triumph for her but sadly an unknown tragedy for the Native Americans. *** Bibliography 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#Jack son (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.