The American Indian
Introduction by JOHN F. KENNEDY
Young readers' edition of THE AMERICAN
HERITAGE BOOK IF INDIANS adapted by ANNE TERRY WHITE - A RANDOM HOUSE BOOK
INTRODUCTION - JOHN F. KENNEDY
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
For a subject worked and reworked so often in
novels, motion pictures, and television, American Indian remain
probably the least understood and most misunderstood Americans of
American Indians defy any single description.
They were and are far too individualistic.
They shared no common language and few common customs.
But collectively their history is our history and should be
part of our shared and remembered heritage.
Yet even their heroes are largely unknown to other
Americans, particularly in the eastern states, except perhaps for
such figures as Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce warriors of the
1870's, Osceola and his magnificent, betrayed Seminoles of the
1830's, and possibly Sacagawea, and Shoshoni "bird woman"
who guided the lost Lewis and Clark expedition through the
mountain passes on Montana.
When we forget great contributors to our
American history-when we neglect the heroic past of the American
Indian-we thereby weaken our own heritage.
We need to remember the contributions our forefathers found
here and from which they borrowed liberally.
When the Indians controlled the balance of
power, the settlers from Europe were forced to consider their
views, and to deal with them by treaties and to her instruments.
The pioneers found that Indians in the Southeast had
developed a high civilization with safeguards for ensuring the
peace. A northern
extension of that civilization, the League of the Iroquois,
inspired Benjamin Franklin to copy it in planning the federation
But when the American Indians lost their
power, they were placed on reservations, frequently lands which
were strange to them, and the rest of the nation turned its
attention to her matters.
Our treatment of Indians during that period
still affects the national conscience.
We have been hampered-by the history of our relationship
with the Indians-in our efforts to develop a fair national
policy governing present and future treatment of Indians under
their special relationship with the Federal government.
Before we can set out on the road to success,
we have to know where we are going, and before we can know that we
must determine where we have been in the past.
Is seems a basic requirement to study the history of our
Indian people America has much to learn about the heritage of our
American Indians. Only
through this study can we as a nation do what must be done if our
treatment of the American Indian is not to be marked down for all
time as a national disgrace.