The Founding Families’ legacy

“Look down as well as up; no roots, no branches.” – Old Indian chief


There are some sentences that should never be completed:

– “America has been good to us, but –

– “Don’t call them Founding Fathers; they’re not my . . .

– “Public schools could be improved, but –

– “Thanks for the history lesson, but . . .

THE LATTER is said with great sarcasm. This is an “unplanned” column in that I had another topic in mind until I saw something on Facebook which said, “This land was inhabited before WE got here” (the old ‘we stole it from them’ line).

The reply:

If the only place one could move to had to be uninhabited, we might be living in Siberia. The New World wasn’t a “country,” and deeds and titles were unknown to the Natives. “No one owns the land” they liked to say. There was no border; that’s how they were able to invade from Asia. They settled territorial disputes by going on the warpath; and we came here to get away from Europe’s wars (“30 Years”; “100 Years,” etc.). So don’t even start with us old duffers.

Besides their factual errors, the “new historians” insinuate that we were never taught the real-deal history. O contraire, silly one! In a one-room country school, we overheard history being taught to the other grades for eight years, and American history was also the theme of our reading textbooks.

The Underground Railroad once ran through our county so we were well aware of the slavery story. Chief Blackhawk had also passed through here, along with Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, and Zachary Taylor. The country reeked with history, and a local high school still uses the nickname Blackhawks because we admire how much he cared for his people. I played baseball for the city team, the Blackhawks, and we bore the name proudly. It has nothing to do with color or creed.

Anyway, it would help to go back to Columbus for the Rest of the Story. Opposing views in arguments don’t always have their “facts” wrong; it’s usually just a matter of emphasis, a matter of which facts you want to focus on. 

“The truth lies somewhere, if we knew but where,” either Francis Bacon or William Cowper said.

Note: that’s as far as I got writing yesterday, but ironically I heard a lecture on Blackhawk in the afternoon by a Native American. He says there are two kinds of historians. One is like a parachutist who just glides over it, and the other digs deeper. Well, I think I’ve dug as deeply as he has, if not deeper if he hasn’t read “Christopher Columbus and His Legacy,” which I mentioned here before. It was part of the “Opposing Viewpoints” series and is probably available yet at used books sites.

One of the top five things on my bucket list is to live to see some healing of our divides, as opposed to the current picking at scabs of old wounds and perpetuating them. The Blackhawk War was one of the ugliest episodes. The speaker did a good job and I learned some details of the screw-ups on both sides, Native and white, due in part to lack of communication. Messages had to be carried by runners or on horseback, resulting in a plethora of misunderstandings and miscalculations.

One of the first things mentioned was that the Sauk Indians weren’t native to the Rock River-Mississippi area, but had been driven out of Canada by another tribe. With the coming of the settlers, the “Natives” had three choices, it is said, none very good. They could co-exist and accept our religion, move on, or fight.

The problem was human nature, not the question of “stealing the land.” As usual there were hotheads on both sides who gave the reasonable people a bad name. The story of Moses passing through certain nations, not bothering them, and taking over other lands was the model for America, the New Promised Land. You’re not supposed to mention Manifest Destiny anymore, but “inevitability” would do just as well, and next time I want to review “Christopher Columbus and His Legacy,” which presents ALL viewpoints on the so-called “conquering” of the New World.

P.S. “Every dogma has its day,” someone said. Someone also said, “A watch doesn’t tell time. You have to read it.” The Bible doesn’t “tell” you anything either if you never open it up! The Lord’s model for “immigration” is found in Moses’ book of Deuteronomy. Hint: Try chapter four.

PPS: “That is the essence of science: ask an impertinent question, and you are on your way to a pertinent answer.” – Jacob Bronowski, “The Ascent of Man”

The same thing is true of the discipline of history. For instance, “Are you SURE we stole this land.”

Neither history nor science is what it used to be.

Curtis Dahlgren

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