Bearing Witness

I have seen him shrinking from civilized approach, which came with all its
vices, like the dead of night upon him. I have seen him gaze and then
retreat like the frightened deer ... seen him shrinking from the soil and
haunts of his boyhood, bursting the strongest ties which bound him to the
earth and its pleasures. I have seen him set fire to his wigwam and smooth
over the graves of his fathers ... clap his hand in silence over his mouth,
and take the last look over his fair hunting ground, and turn his face in
sadness to the setting sun. All this I have seen performed in nature's
silent dignity ... and I have seen as often the approach of the bustling,
busy, talking, whistling, hopping, elated and exulting white man, with the
first dip of the ploughshare, making sacrilegeous trespass on the bones of
the valiant dead .... I have seen the grand and irresistible march of
civilization. I have seen this splendid juggernaut rolling on and beheld its
sweeping desolation, and held converse with the happy thousands, living
as yet beyond its influence, who have not been crushed, nor yet have
dreamed of its approach.
George Catlin
Portraitist
18??

Posted by sullivan at 06:24 PM | Comments (0)

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