The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK—We pay too little attention, and know too little, about the feelings of the American Indians. We took their land from them, and our government entered into solemn treaties with them. These treaties should not be broken without their full consent and understanding, even if we think we are offering them something better.

The Indians may have failed to prepare for change because we have not given them either adequate education or medical care. Where they do not wish to change, is it fair to force change upon them?

A letter which presents so poignantly an appeal for consideration of the Indians has come to me. I use it here because it is really an appeal addressed to every responsible American citizen. It reads: "Dear Friend:

"I call you friend because I feel that I know you from your writings.

"I would like to tell you an old story. It is a story of a nation which would dominate another. This nation that I tell you of would destroy us as a race, nation and people. It would deprive us of our inherent rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

"It would subject us to its way of life, its own laws, political beliefs and practices and deprive us of a democratic way of life that is cherished by all who live it. It would deprive us of the right to govern ourselves by legislation upon us without our representation.

"It would deprive us of our religious freedom, one of the most cherished privileges of this great land. It would force us into citizenship of their country by legislation without our consent. Through legislation it would force us to pay tribute and serve in their forces in time of war and peace.

"It would deprive us of the right to govern ourselves and settle our internal affairs. It would force us to abide by the decisions of their tribunals. It would hold in its name titles so cloudy that a court of justice would be forced to hang their heads in shame if they upheld them.

"It would name itself protector over us and attempt to prove to the world that all is right in their houses. It would remove our status from us so that we might never again be known as ourselves but what they have made us.

"It would teach our children to be ashamed of their heritage and paint us as evil and savage. It would control the history until the truths are very faint.

"This is an old story but it is also very new. The nation that I tell you of is not Russia. I do not know how they would treat my people.

"The Mohawk people also call you friend because they feel that your attitude is against tyranny and injustice for any. I would ask you to look toward Washington, D.C., when the Federal Power Commission considers the New York State Power Authority-Robert Moses versus Tuscarora Reservation case.

"The Tuscarora Indians are members of the Six Nations Confederacy, as are the Mohawks and others. The lands of the Mohawks are also the lands of the Six Nations. Whatever affects the Tuscaroras also affects the rest of the Six Nations.

"I feel that the Federal Power Commission does not have the right to decide whether the treaties they have made with the United States and which secured the United States in this great land are still of enough value to consider.

"I appeal to your sense of justice and honor that through your influence you might make known the injustices imposed upon us and the real intent of those who would break solemn treaties which are `the supreme law of the land.'

"I pray that the Great Creator might give you of His influence and find reason to smile upon you and cause your heart to sing.

Sincerely your friend,

Ka Kwi ra no ron


(Copyright, 1959, by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.)

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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 8, 1959

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Digital edition published 2008, 2017 by
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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.